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Diamonds aim for mental edge over NZ

  • Diamonds aim for mental edge over NZ

The winner of Australia's heavyweight pool clash with New Zealand will hold a psychological edge all the way to a potential Netball World Cup final showdown, Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander says.

Under the tournament's new format the defending champions run into the new-look Silver Ferns at Sydney's Olympic Park on Sunday, on the back of two emphatic opening wins over Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados.

Their 83-16 demolition of the latter on Saturday has Alexander confident her charges are more than capable of extending their nine-match winning streak against their trans-Tasman rivals.

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"We're as sharp as we can be at this stage of the tournament," she said.

"It's always hard, you've got to try and build for your best performances towards the end of the week but we've got to put out a good one tomorrow."

Alexander says she's wary world No.2 New Zealand will play with nothing to lose, having last defeated the hosts back at the 2003 world championships final in Jamaica.

A win, she said, would give her side the mental advantage for the rest of the tournament, declaring that "if anyone says it's not, I think they're telling fibs".

Alexander wouldn't be drawn on her starting seven but said she was still open to more experimentation in what she labelled the "shadow boxing" match before the main event.

While New Zealand coach Waimarama Taumaunu views Australia as the team with whom they're most familiar, the Diamonds are still doing their research on the Silver Ferns' new free-flowing attack.

"They'll play a different netball to what we're used to New Zealand playing," said captain Laura Geitz.

"That's something we as a group need to be able to adjust to quickly."

Australia got away against Barbados in far crisper fashion than Friday's slow start against Trinidad and Tobago, snatching a turnover off the first centre pass to rocket to 6-0.

Exceptional hands-over pressure and spatial awareness denied their ninth-ranked foes a goal for more than four minutes as the Aussies cruised to a 38-7 halftime lead in a less-than-testing contest.

Goal attack Erin Bell in particular pressed her claims for the starting spot over experienced campaigner Natalie Medhurst, owning the circle with 21 goals in her second international match back after a near two-year absence.

Alexander again gave Geitz the starting goal keeper bib, running Layton in at goal defence before replacing her with Rebecca Bulley in the third quarter.

The coach emptied most of her bench to give Kim Green a run at wing attack and West Coast Fever combination Medhurst and Caitlin Bassett a stint at GA and GS.

Julie Corletto was the only player to watch the whole match from the sidelines, under a managed workload thanks to a niggly knee.

The win lifts the Diamonds' astonishing international winning streak to 21 Test matches.

Meanwhile, New Zealand thrashed Trinidad and Tobago 74-38, while third-ranked England only just had the edge over world No.4 Jamaica 54-50.

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