Diamonds close in on World Cup favouritism
An understaffed and "brave" Diamonds are just a game away from taking favouritism into the Netball World Cup after beating New Zealand in London early Sunday for their second Quad Series victory.
Australia has only to beat England - shock losers to South Africa on Sunday - early Monday to complete a clean sweep in their final international series before their defence of the world crown in the UK mid-year.
Coach Lisa Alexander praised her players for their 53-50 Quad Series victory over a rebuilding Silver Ferns side out for redemption after failing to win a Commonwealth Games medal of any colour for the first time.
"Everyone wrote us off because of the injuries to C-Bass and Gabi but they did us proud," Alexander said from England.
The Ferns threw everything at the Diamonds but still came off second best despite Australian captain Caitlin Bassett (hand) and teammate Gabi Simpson (upper leg) both being sidelined with injury.
"They showed the true Aussie spirit out there, lots of guts and determination, they love representing their country, we hope everyone is proud back home because that's what we aim to do," Alexander said.
The Quad Series will now be decided by the much-anticipated game between Australia and the host nation on Monday.
The new darlings of English sport beat Australia for the Commonwealth Games gold last year but the Diamonds avenged the loss with a resounding victory in the following late year Quad Series.
But England will be fired up for success after their shock 45-48 loss to South Africa.
"That was a magnificent result for South Africa," Alexander said from the game.
"England will come back hard at us after this but destiny is in our own hands."
Monday's match will be Australia's last meeting with England before the World Cup in July.
On Sunday Giants midcourter Jamie Lee Price was awarded Player of the Match honours as the Diamonds held off a fast-finishing New Zealand for the win.Instrumental to their success was the Diamonds pulling off 13 intercepts to New Zealand's eight, a slightly higher shooting percentage and a strong start to the game.
Australia took a six goal lead into the final third which was reduced to two midway through.
But the Diamonds - who lost both the third and fourth quarters after leading 27-19 at halftime - hung tough to take the crucial match by three goals.