Wonderful Wallam sinks English hearts in thriller

DONNELL Wallam is the pride of Aussie netball this morning, after her magical debut cameo saw Australia defeat England by a single goal in the opening match of their three match series.

She did not have much time on court in her debut, but it did not matter as a trade mark lay up goal from her in the dying seconds helped her team get over the line.

AUSTRALIA          14 | 12 | 16 | 13 (55)
ENGLAND            14 | 13 | 12 | 15 (54)

It was a very even start to the game, with most teams trading blows, before Australia were the first to pinch a goal off the visitor’s centre pass. Unfortunately for the Aussies, the English pinched one off their centre the very next pass.

As the quarter progressed the Diamonds were able to build up a lead, but it was no more than a couple of goals.

However, that lead did not last the full quarter as the Roses were able to level things up inside the final minute of the term.

After a Eleanor Cardwell miss in the final seconds of the quarter, the score was 14 apiece at quarter time.

Both teams continued to trade blows early in the second before the Roses streaked ahead a little to build up a bit of a buffer.

The Diamonds were forced to make their first change of the match during the term, with Courtney Bruce having to come off and being replaced by Jo Weston.

England had really lifted in the second quarter, and for much of the quarter Australia could not match it and bring down the deficit.

That was until the final few minutes of the quarter when a run of four goals in a row saw Australia get back within one of England.

England then settled to make the margin two, before a late Kiera Austin goal ensured the margin would be one at the main break.

Both sides made a change at half time, with Kate Moloney coming on at wing defence for the Diamonds and Sophie Drakeford-Lewis coming on at goal attack for the Roses.

Australia were able to eliminate the English lead inside the opening two minutes of the quarter, and built and maintained a lead of their own as the quarter progressed.

The changes kept coming from both sides during the quarter, as Cara Koenen, Bruce and Funmi Fadoju allentered the action for their respective sides during the quarter.

It remained a tight affair for the rest of the quarter, but crucially for the Diamonds they maintained their lead, and at the final break the margin sat at three goals in their favour.               

England made a few changes at the final change, bringing on Helen Housby and Hannah Joseph as they tried to real in the Diamonds lead.

It did not take them long to do so, with the lead gone inside the first three minutes of the quarter.

Wallam finally came onto the court with about 10 minutes to go to an absolute rockstar reception from the home crowd, and did not have to wait long to get involved in the action.

The teams continued to trade blows early, but with five minutes to go the Australian lead had got out to three goals.

However, with just over 30 seconds to go Cardwell levelled things up and the atmosphere really lifted in Newcastle.

Then, the magical moment for the Diamonds.

With no more than about 15 seconds to go, what started with a midcourt intercept from Moloney ended with a trademark lay up goal from Wallam to seal a magical win for the home side.

Both Wallam and Koenen did not miss a shot, but from a shooting perspective Australia’s win was set up by Sophie Garbin’s 36 from 43.

Maddy Proud (36 feeds, 26 assists) and Paige Hadley (21 feeds, 13 assists) both had great games, while Bruce’s intercept game was on point.

Meanwhile for the Roses, the vertical leap from Fadoju kept the Roses in the game at times, as did Cardwell’s shooting 44 from 48). Jade Clarke (26 feeds, 16 assists) also had a great game in a fascinating battle with Proud.

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