Australia fall in opening match to England

ANDREW DRUMMOND
Last updated 09:13 21/01/2013

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Australia's netball Diamonds will go digging for added drive after losing the opening match of a three-test series against England.

Playing without their injured captain Natalie von Bertouch, the world champions trailed the home side throughout today's clash, going down 58-53.

"I think the biggest thing that was noticeable was we got outplayed in terms of hunger," stand-in captain and team veteran Catherine Cox told AAP after the loss in Bath, west of London.

"(England) came out absolutely fired up ... and gave us a bit of a netballing lesson in terms of hunger.

"They were more committed and that resulted in a kick in the guts for us."

England finished the first quarter 17-12, the second 33-22 and the third 43-39 but despite narrowing the margin in the closing stages Australia couldn't wrangle the lead from the home side before the final whistle.

Defender Eboni Beckford-Chambers, who spent last season playing for Perth club West Coast Fever, was strong in defence for England.

Joanne Harten, who plays domestically in New Zealand, was also confident in possession for the red and white.

"Defensively we can get a lot stronger, but it's all-round really," Cox said.

"Overall, moving forward, it will be a look at every part of the court for training in coming days."

Midcourt linchpin von Bertouch was sidelined for the match after a recurring finger injury flared up during training yesterday.

"Obviously it's tough," Cox said of the captain's absence.

"The last thing you want is one of your most experienced players and captain ruled out of play."

As the Diamonds prepare for their next fixture on Wednesday in London, von Bertouch's availability will be determined by daily medical checks.

With the captain ruled out on Sunday, Diamonds debutante Kimberley Ravaillion, 19, slotted into the centre position from the second quarter.

"For my mind she was the stand-out player for us," Cox said.

Most of the Australian side has sacrificed pre-season training with their domestic clubs to travel to England for the three-Test series.

Cox said the timing of the series "certainly has an impact".

"It's right at the start of our season. We've only had a week together," she said.

"If we had our way we would prefer to be playing at the end of the year, but most of us are players who have been around the traps for a long time and we know how we have to front up."

Following Thursday's (NZ time) second test at Wembley Arena, the teams head to Birmingham for a final clash on January 26.

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- AAP

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