Coach backs Diamonds' mental strength

Gretel Tippett turns to take a shot during Australia's loss to the Silver Ferns in Christchurch...
Gretel Tippett turns to take a shot during Australia's loss to the Silver Ferns in Christchurch on Sunday. Photo: Getty Images
It was a case of deja vu for the Australian Diamonds in the opening clash of the Constellation Cup.

Falling short against the Silver Ferns by just a solitary goal - the same margin which saw New Zealand claim Netball World Cup glory in July - the state of the Diamonds' mental strength has been widely questioned by media and fans.

Last week, Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua suggested the Australians had lost a sense of pride in their game following runner-up finishes at both the World Cup and the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

But when questioned whether the one-goal loss had played on their minds, Diamonds head coach Lisa Alexander was adamant there was nothing wrong with her side's mental game.

"I knew I was going to get this question from all our pop psychologists in the media," Alexander said after the clash.

"Yes we will address it, don't worry, we're not going to go see psychologists, but we absolutely need to address it and we will.

"It was another great contest between two, we may as well say bitter rivals ... It's a bit bitter for us because we came away with a loss and we haven't lost two in a row to the Ferns in a while so that's bitter.

"There's not that much more that we need to do to get over the line and [the Diamonds] need to find that within themselves as well as we need to find it within the team."

The Diamonds took control of the match after creating a comfortable five-goal buffer over the Ferns in the third quarter before changes to the New Zealand side, including the introduction of Karin Burger, saw a shift in momentum as the Ferns stormed back into the lead.

However, Alexander didn't agree positional changes was what helped swing the game in New Zealand's favour, instead stating it was her side's lack of execution which subsequently saw the Ferns claim victory.

"I don't necessarily think that it was the changes that the Silver Ferns made at three-quarter time, I think we just played into their hands and didn't play smart," she said.

"We've talked about this, and I don't want to go on about what we're doing as our gameplan, but I was not happy that we didn't do that well enough, and if we do that well, the results should take care of itself.

"It's very frustrating, we've just got to be better."

Meanwhile, Taurua was delighted by her side's win ahead of the next test in Auckland.

"Massive to come out with the win, especially in that manner once again and to be able to back up the Netball World Cup," Taurua said. "Absolutely rapt, not that we'll bask in the glory, but I'm really happy with what we were able to put out there.

"We talk about it as being an opportunity to play the World No 1, so it's fantastic for us to be able to come out with a win and we'll go back and start reflection on what we need to do for the next game."

The teams arrived in Auckland today ahead of the second test to be played at Spark Arena on Wednesday.

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