Cara Koenen stars as Diamonds too strong for Silver Ferns in Constellation Cup

Cara Koenen has led Australia to a nine-point Constellation Cup win over New Zealand.

Cara Koenen has led Australia to a nine-point Constellation Cup win over New Zealand. Photo: Getty

Australia has taken a 2-0 lead in the Constellation Cup with goal shooter Cara Koenen starring in a 55-46 win over New Zealand.

Koenen’s parents made the trip from Magnetic Island in Queensland’s far north to attend Sunday’s game at Brisbane Entertainment Centre and their daughter turned it on with an immaculate display of shooting.

She shot 33 out of 33, while her general play in the goal circle was first rate.

Diamonds coach Stacey Marinkovich was impressed with the 27-year-old’s display.

“I think she is growing. There were some things she really wanted to target in this game and she executed those really well,” Marinkovich said.

“We were able to use her movement and she is becoming a little more elusive in the variety that she has got.

“Cara has always had some tricks in her pocket, but it is about picking the right moment to use them.

“The combination that she has got with (goal attack) Kiera Austin is pretty seamless and I am looking forward to the variety we can go to with our other shooters.”

In Australia’s 500th Test – and vice-captain Paige Hadley’s 50th – both sides went goal for goal through the first six minutes before the Diamonds turned the screws.

The hosts were ruthless and punished turnovers made by the Silver Ferns until the visitors got back in it towards the end of the quarter.

Outstanding movement up front from Koenen and goal attack Kiera Austin (21/26) was a highlight early.

Both were deadly in front of goal as the Diamonds took a 16-11 lead into quarter-time.

Rising Silver Ferns star Grace Nweke (21/24) came on in the second quarter for her first game in 10 weeks due to injury and the 21-year-old was a dangerous target up front.

The visitors came powering back into the match with centre Maddy Gordon dynamic, although Australia still led 28-23 at half-time.

Diamonds captain and wing attack Liz Watson combined superbly with her forward line throughout the match and came to the fore in the third quarter with her service as her side extended the lead to nine at the final break, which they maintained through the last term.

The teams fly to New Zealand on Monday for the final two matches of the series in Invercargill and Auckland.


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