First of all congratulations to Cara Koenen on her impressive 1st start. After she came off as an impact sub in Game 1. And got all shots right 7/7 at 100% netting rate.
She is blessed with the support alongside Kiera Austin. As the powerful attacking front two. When the Ferns struggled to replicate their version that slipped away.
Credit to the whole squad who done brilliant in the 1st half. You got the defenders giving the Diamonds a red hot go. Then passes to the mid court & the communication was there. When they crossed with some space in the circle.
In which worked very well for either Austin or Koenen to focus on netting in. Cara used her tall reach knowing what Sulu Fitzpatrick is trying to do. And so does Jane Watson alongside her. As these two are difficult challengers to face. But fortunately she outmuscled the duo.
Where the added points are on the scoreboard. And she only missed just a few shots of 29/34. Plus a still decent shooting rate of 85%. Well Maia Wilson has a new challenger for the best goal shooter role. As Cara Koenen is settling in real fast at International level. She is age 25 who plays for the Sunshine Coast Lightning. Having experienced two titles with the club in 2017-18 Super Netball.
And having been in a winning side beforehand. It goes to shows that this is going to give Cara plenty of chances. She took it well with both hands as one of their main players. Made more Finals appearances in 2019 & 2020. Now she is next level studying who are these opponents. And how she ensured that life would not be harder as a Diamonds player. Two caps with little time of adjustment is power to Cara tonight.
I got to say she has made life in the back three much easier tonight. Where Jo started in wing defense. Alongside Courtney Bruce (GD) & Sarah Klau (GK).
She looked after that impressive backline having fired off well. The reading was there when Silver Ferns struggled to make up the early lead. And it is something Jo took advantage to block their attacking chances. Especially when the Ferns are without Ameliaranne Ekenasio. As their usual skipper is out sore from last night.
Very tall reach with the physical presence that reflected her natural game. After she protected both Klau & Bruce being isolated. She also offered an attacking outlet herself by going a bit advanced.
She gave these attackers from the other end a go. And exactly gave the return that Jo Wanted. It was too easy to reflect a big 15 point lead by half-time. With the hard work being backed up during the 1st half.
Although they struggled after Jo had to rest on the bench. Where the Diamonds began to drop the momentum a little bit in the 2nd half. But held on strong with the win. You got to credit her for the fine performance. In which did help get the ball rolling for the Diamonds. Just needed Jo all game to protect her back two. As well as link up the other end with the flow.
Plus the communication improved as said a little earlier. With Bruce & Klau working alongside Jo. Stick that back three for Game 3 this Saturday. If they are to retain this Trans-Tasman series in New Zealand.
The Ferns may have fallen short in the end tonight. But based on the individual player performance tonight. Why not go for Jane Watson at Goal Defense. As she celebrates her 50th International cap.
Jane has the mindset where she read it well. Having seen the opposition being so hesitant on occasions. And she just came in shots fired. With the physicality and pace to cancel the Diamonds from leaking points. They would be fuming to have that ball crosses taken away. Then Watson able to win that turnover for the Silver Ferns. Such a fine player to watch after lots of experience gained over the years.
But at large it was the other end of the Ferns side that let her down. The fire off was not the same as it was last night during Game 1. With no Ameliaranne Ekanasio in the squad at all. Not even via the substitutes bench. And the Ferns struggled to match what the Diamonds set up. At least in the first two stages.
Although, the addition of Bailey Mes saw a different Ferns side in the 2nd half. It was the exact same intensity that helped them win last night. There is a lot of Jane Watson running around. And blocking out these Diamonds finishing with the turnovers. In which reflects her hard work communicating. Not just with her fellow defenders. But also seeing the Ferns attackers winning the 2nd half alone. Just not enough to make lost time in the end.
She will continue to contribute for the benefit of netball. Both at club and international level. Now at age 30 Jane still has unfinished business on her physical prime. Such as her ongoing goal with the series win. In which is still possible to come back this weekend. Jane needs the front 3 stay together that worked well in the 2nd half tonight. And stay there for Game 3 this Saturday.