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Diamonds' defence needs to lift: Alexander

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 14/10/2016 Angelo Risso

Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander hopes to see a little more of the Australian terrier in her troops when they take on New Zealand in Auckland on Saturday.

The world champions fell to a surprise 53-51 home defeat to the Silver Ferns in Launceston on Wednesday night to level the four-Test Constellation Cup series at 1-1.

A strong Diamonds opening quarter fell away with sub-par second and third quarters, before Silver Ferns shooters Bailey Mes and Te Paea Selby-Rickit fired their team to victory.

Alexander lauded the Silver Ferns' intensity and urgency in Tasmania but said her side had simply been too predictable in attack.

They had also allowed returning Silver Ferns veteran Anna Harrison to boss her defensive circle.

Her team would need to lift their intensity against Auckland without losing their heads.

"We call it terrier defence, the Australian terrier dog in the outback, and we want to make sure we bring that defensive pressure at all times," Alexander said.

"We need it for 60 minutes and that's what the Silver Ferns did extremely well, they stuck to their guns."

Alexander warned she was prepared to deploy towering attacking guns Caitlin Bassett and Gretel Tippett simultaneously against the Kiwis, with Caitlin Thwaites waiting in the wings.

For the Silver Ferns, star attacker Maria Tutaia is set to make her comeback from a foot injury, adding height and long-range shooting to her side's repertoire.

Alexander said her side's set-up wouldn't be tweaked specifically for Tutaia, but defensive linchpins Sharni Layton and April Brandley would have to be on red alert.

Skipper and wing defence Clare McMeniman echoed her coach's sentiments, saying the 29-year-old Tutaia had enough experience to drive her team to Constellation Cup victory.

"Maria brings that reliability, the ability to shoot long bombs again and again, and that cool, calm, composed head in their attack line-up," the 31-year-old McMeniman said.

"That means something when you're in those clutch situations in matches."


* Australia in New Zealand v all opposition

Played 82: won 58, lost 22, drawn 2 (71% winning record)

* Australia in New Zealand v NZ

Played 53: won 31, lost 21, drawn 1 (58% winning record)

* Australia at Vector Arena

Played 9: won 5, lost 4

* Highest score - Australia 59 goals (Sep 23, 2012 and Oct 2, 2014)

* Highest score - NZ 61 goals (Oct 29, 2005)

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