This Thursday at 6.00pm the Australian Diamonds (including Steph Wood and Cara Koenen) will take on the Jamaican Sunshine Girls (Kadie-Ann Dehaney) at the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

With both sides remaining undefeated after the first three games of the series, this highly anticipated match is one many netball fans will be tuning in for.

We sat down with Lightning Head Coach Kylee Byrne to get her insights on what we can expect when the two teams match-up.

“Coaching in a tournament-style competition is so different than the week-to-week games played in the Suncorp Super Netball. Giving all players the opportunity to start a match while everyone is fired up, clear on the game plan and feeling the energy of the crowd is very important. As is coming off the bench and finding a quick way to have immediate impact by connecting with your teammates and nullifying your opposition,” she said.

“The start of a tournament will always see some clunkiness while nerves kick-in and the re-establishment of partnerships and combinations on court are built.”

Byrne spoke about the importance of both sides using Lightning players to come off the bench and make an impact.

“The Australian Diamonds and Jamaican Sunshine Girls have worked their combinations smartly in the first few rounds, with the depth of both squads being showcased and producing wins in convincing style,” she said.

“When you can bring Cara Koenen and Kadie-Ann Dehaney on from the bench to help push a lead out is such a fantastic situation for both coaches to be in. We are definitely fortunate with the depth of talent both countries are blessed with.”

The outcome of this game will determine the cross-over matches and might be the difference between securing a medal.

“Thursday’s game is a massive one. The Australians met Jamaica in their last pool match in the 2018 Commonwealth Games and enjoyed a huge 72-51 win — but they won’t have it that easy this time around,” she said.

“While all eyes will be on the Jamaican defence end of Sterling, Dehaney, Ward and Wilson up against Bueta, Wood, Austin, Koenen and Watson, the other end of the court is where it will really have impact on the score line. Whoever has the task of trying to shut down Jhaniele Fowler will always have the hardest job on court, however I believe that the Australians can win this game with the pressure applied to the Jamaican’s GA, WA and C. How the Jamaicans handle the Australian defensive pressure will be the telling story.”

Steph Wood has been a stand-out in the Games so far, proving her versatility and experience to connect with multiple goal shooters and mid-courters.

“Steph has been in great form and has shown her experience in connecting the mid-court to the shooters. While the GA and GS combination is always talked about, I have enjoyed watching Steph and Liz combine out the front and play a balanced, smart and skilful style that supports the Australian way of netball. Their ability to work together to set up each other and others around them is absolutely world-class,” she said.

Tune in to Channel 7 or 7plus to watch the Australian Diamonds play the Jamaican Sunshine Girls at 6pm AEST on Thursday, 4 August.

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