<
>

Coach Alexander to combat Aussie Fern

Diamonds' coach Lisa Alexander is confident she can combat the increasing influence of the Sliver Ferns Australian-born shooter, Ameliaranne Ekenasio, who she's proud to see flourish in New Zealand.

The world champions will take a 2-1 lead into next Sunday's final Constellation Cup Test in Perth, after shading Australia 54-53 in Sydney on Sunday.

Queensland-born Ekenasio and veteran Maria Folau each shot 27 goals, with the former missing only two attempts and netting the winning score.

The two have formed an increasingly productive combination in recent times and Alexander described 27-year-old Ekenasio as the "point of difference" for New Zealand.

When it was suggested Ekenasio's style was hard to combat a feisty Alexander replied: "I don't think so, I've got some plans for that."

Alexander suggested that might include giving a Diamonds' debut to NSW Swifts defender Maddy Turner, the only player in her squad yet to get a run in the series.

Ekenasio, or Ameliaranne Wells, as she was known then, was part of the Queenskand Firebirds program between 20011 and 2014.

She struggled for court time and her career only took off when she moved to New Zealand, where her family hails from.

Asked if it hurt to see an Australian-born player developed in the country progress in New Zealand and score a match-winner against the Diamonds, Alexander said: "It actually makes me proud, I know it sounds weird."

"But to have someone that started in our system and she didn't blossom here, so she had to go somewhere else to find her way.

"She found it back in really her homeland; I suppose where her family is from.

"I'm actually kind of really proud of her in a funny way but I don't like her beating us either."

New Zealand coach Noeline Taurua acknowledged the help Ekenasio had received in the past from former Diamonds' shooter Nicole Cusack and praised her temperament.

"She's got such a lovely manner about her and I suppose for her it was also her ability to come home in some respect and having your feet on the land also makes a difference," Taurua said.

"We're really happy with what she's been able to do."

Alexander said wing defence Ash Brazill tweaked an ankle in Sunday's game, but praised her performance and that of international rookie wing attack Laura Scherian.

Diamonds captain and WA product Caitlin Bassett is set to win her 100th cap in Perth.