Diamonds outshine England despite late Wallam withdrawal, Proud injury

Despite the last-minute absence of shooter Donnell Wallam, and an injury to Maddy Proud, the Diamonds have sewn up their Test series against England with a game to spare following a 56-48 victory before a crowd of 14,000 at Qudos Bank Arena on Sunday.

Wallam had secured the Diamonds’ thrilling 55-54 victory over England when she scored eight of eight shots in her final quarter debut on Wednesday, including the winning goal in the final seconds of the match. She had been in the spotlight in the lead-up to the series for her opposition to sponsors Hancock Prospecting, who last week dumped their $15 million deal with Netball Australia.

Diamonds centre Maddy Proud received an injury during the team’s winning game.Credit:Getty Images

She was missing from the Diamonds’ line-up on Sunday, reportedly due to a virus, and was replaced by goal shooter Sophie Garbin. Wing defence Amy Parmenter replaced centre and wing player Kate Moloney, as goal attack Sophie Dwyer returned to the court.

The Diamonds found their way around England’s defence, including the Roses’ formidable goalkeeper Funmi Fadoju. Goal shooters Cara Koenen and Kiera Austin contributed eight goals each to Australia’s 16-11 lead in the first quarter.

The margin closed to 28-24 by half-time, as England picked up their defensive game and found their shooting mojo. But Diamonds centre Jamie-Lee Price and wing attack Paige Hadley fed Koenen and Austin’s 93-per-cent shooting accuracy.

Proud came onto the court in the third quarter but was taken out of the match with 90 seconds left when she received an accidental elbow to the face from a teammate.

England’s star goal shooter Eleanor Cardwell goes up against Diamonds defender Jo Weston compete.Credit:Getty Images

Towering Diamonds goalkeeper Sarah Klau kept up the pressure on England sharpshooter Eleanor Cardwell, forcing her to shoot from long range in the third quarter and snapping up three rebounds. Australia finished the third quarter up 42-34.

Hadley and Price continued to create opportunities, feeding more than 50 passes into the goal circle throughout the game. Koenen scored 29 of the Diamonds’ goals, shooting at better than 92 per cent. England finished with more possession, intercepts and turnovers, and Cardwell was the top scorer, netting more than 40 goals, but it was the Diamonds who emerged victorious.

The series ends with game three at Brisbane’s Entertainment Centre on Thursday.

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