Diamonds to play in Melbourne and Bendigo

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The Australian Diamonds will defend its Constellation Cup title against the New Zealand Silver Ferns with Tests in Sydney and Melbourne before a two-Test series against England in Bendigo and Canberra in October.

The announcement, made in Bendigo by Victorian Minister for Sport and Recreation Damian Drum, finalises Australia’s international netball calendar for 2014 with six Tests to be contested following the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

“Being our only international hit out between this year’s Commonwealth Games and the 2015 Netball World Cup in Sydney, this Test series against two of the top ranked sides in the world, New Zealand and England, is vital to our World Cup preparations,” Australian Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander said.

After the Diamonds reclaimed the title last year with a 4-1 series victory, the Constellation Cup will be contested over four Tests in 2014 with games in Melbourne (October 8) and Sydney (October 11) bookended by Game One in Invercargill (October 2) and Game Four in Auckland (October 15).

After wrapping up the Constellation Cup series, the Diamonds will return home to contest a two-Test series against world number three England at Bendigo Stadium, Bendigo (October 19) and AIS Arena, Canberra (October 22).

The central Victoria has produced a number of international netballers, including current Diamonds squad members Caitlin Thwaites (Bendigo), Julie Corletto (Kerang) and Rebecca Bulley (Bendigo), and will become the 11th Australian city to host an international Test match.

“Netball is ingrained in the lives of many people living in regional and rural Australia so we’re thrilled that we can bring the Australian Diamonds and international netball to country Victoria for the first time in our sport’s history,” Alexander said.

Victorian Minister for Sport and Recreation Damian Drum said the Victorian Government is proud to support this Test through the Significant Sporting Events Program.

“With Melbourne Vixens hosting the ANZ Championship Grand Final later in June and the Glasgow Commonwealth Games just weeks away, netball is a focus for Victoria’s sporting public and now regional Victoria will be part of the excitement,” Mr Drum said.

“The first ever international netball fixture to be played in regional Victoria will see Bendigo open the 2014 series against our country’s oldest sporting rivals with the Diamonds taking on England.

“As well as having two of the top 3 -ranked netball nations squaring off, netballers in the region can also look forward to local community clinics delivered by their international netball heroes in the lead up to the game.”

City of Greater Bendigo Mayor Cr Barry Lyons said the city was looking forward to hosting the Australian Diamonds and England Netball Team.

“We are absolutely delighted to host this event at the Bendigo Stadium – it’s good for sport, its great for tourism and it’s fantastic for our local community,” Mr Lyons said.

Twelve months after the Australian Diamonds sealed the Constellation Cup with a thrilling one-goal victory over New Zealand in front of a sold out crowd, the Diamonds return to AIS Arena take on England in their last outing before the 2015 Netball World Cup in Sydney.

ACT Minister for Tourism and Events Andrew Barr said the ACT Government was pleased to partner with Netball Australia in bringing yet another international match to Canberra.

“This is the first of many blockbuster sporting events taking place in Canberra this summer and it’s fantastic to see the Diamonds returning to Canberra after the successful Centenary clash against New Zealand in 2013,” Barr said.

“This exciting event provides another great opportunity for our passionate local netball fans to see some of the world’s best players live in action and, judging from last year’s response, tickets will sell out quickly.”

More information on tickets and start times will be announced when confirmed.

Australian Diamonds 2014 Test Calendar:

Thu 2 Oct New Zealand Silver Ferns v Australian Diamonds ILT Stadium Southland, Invercargill
Wed 8 Oct Australian Diamonds v New Zealand Silver Ferns Hisense Arena, Melbourne
Sat 11 Oct Australian Diamonds v New Zealand Silver Ferns Allphones Arena, Sydney
Wed 15 Oct New Zealand Silver Ferns v Australian Diamonds The Trusts Arena, Auckland
Sun 19 Oct Australian Diamonds v England Netball Team Bendigo Stadium, Bendigo
Wed 22 Oct Australian Diamonds v England Netball Team AIS Arena, Canberra