New Zealand v Australia - Constellation Cup
New Zealand v Australia - Constellation Cup

Koenen shoots for the stars despite close defeat

Sunshine Coast Lightning star Cara Koenen has impressed on debut for the Diamonds despite the Aussie side tasting defeat in their return to test netball.

The 24-year-old came on in the fourth quarter of the Constellation Cup opener and scored seven goals, shooting at 100 per cent.

But it wasn't enough as the Diamonds fell short five goals to New Zealand, 49-44.

Lightning star shoots for Diamonds start

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Lightning goal shooter at Peace on the Coast

The victory will raise Kiwi hopes of winning the Cup for the first time since 2012.

Down by four at quarter time and seven at the half, New Zealand's lead blew out to double figures early in the third term before Australia stormed back.

The injection of Karin Burger in defence midway through the third term turned the tables and the Silver Ferns went to the last change ahead 40-31.

Centre Liz Watson said the Diamonds made "basic errors" and "struggled to get through the zone defence".

Australia shaded Aotearoa in the fourth quarter, winning it 13-9, but left themselves too much to do.

Bassett scored 19 goals from 21 attempts in a typically strong display.

Kiera Austin showed some early nerves, missing four of her first 10 before finishing with 18 from 24 shots.

Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua served the Diamonds notice of their intent.

"We're gunning for it. Now is the time for us," Taurua said.

The series is being played behind closed doors in Christchurch this week, with crowds and matches in Tauranga scrapped due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

Game two of the Constellation Cup will be played at the same time Wednesday night, 5pm AEDT, with games three and four to follow this Saturday and Sunday.