Diamonds gleam to crush England and lift Nations Cup

Ian Chadband |

Liz Watson has led Australia’s Diamonds to another tournament triumph in the Netball Nations Cup.
Liz Watson has led Australia’s Diamonds to another tournament triumph in the Netball Nations Cup.

Australia’s Diamonds have demonstrated again why they’re still in a netball class of their own as they lifted the Nations Cup in the den of their biggest rivals with a thumping 69-49 final win over England.

In a rematch of their 2022 World Cup final which Australia had won by 16 goals, Liz Watson and her team again made England’s Roses wilt with an even more dominant 20-goal victory in Leeds on Sunday.

Ten goals up by halftime after powering out of the blocks and suffocating their opponents in defence, the Stacey Marinkovich-coached outfit never let up, eventually doubling their lead to once again lift the four-team tournament they have effectively made their own over the years.

Inspired by player of the match Sophie Garbin, with her 31 goals from 32 attempts, and player of the series, centre Paige Hadley, Australia came out firing, determined to overwhelm a team who had got within two goals of the world champs in London the previous weekend

Paige Hadley
Paige Hadley was the player of the series in Australia’s Nations Cup triumph. (Linda Higginson/AAP PHOTOS)

“Getting winners’ medals never gets boring,” beamed Garbin. “One of the things we set up for this tournament was to have fun – and we’re flying home tomorrow having had so much fun.

“We talk about improving with each performance. We had a great performance against Uganda on Saturday and we wanted to come out really strong again. We’ve got 13 players and every one can come on and do a really good job.”

Cheered on by a noisy home crowd who were perfectly happy to treat the Aussies as pantomime villains at any opportunity, the jeers quickly turned to near-silence as the Australians’ pressure kept squeezing mistakes from the hosts.

England were 13-17 down after the first quarter and by the end of the third, they had effectively given up the ghost, trailing 53-35 in a rout that was becoming a little embarrassing.

Not that the Australians were gloating. “We were only really focused on the hard work and they pride themselves on it. It’s hard to win here and in international netball, and that’s been our theme,” said Marinkovich.

“I thought they came out of the blocks hard and they built momentum and everyone kept supporting each other and, then to be able to inject the changes and keep coming in the fourth quarter was really pleasing.”

Led by outstanding captain Liz Watson, Marinkovich hailed the “squad mentality” as the world and Commonwealth champs maintained the stranglehold over the game’s big prizes.

And in a smiling warning to the rest of the netball world, she added: “There’s definitely room for improvement.”

AAP