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Australian Diamonds vs Tonga Tala, game two, pool stage, live scores, updates, stats, video stream, result, news, blog

The Australian Diamonds may have enjoyed a first-up win over Zimbabwe, but they’ll face a much tougher task on Saturday against seventh ranked Tonga – who have plenty of familiar faces.

None more so than former Diamond Mo’onia Gerrard who returns to international netball as a 42-year-old mother-of-four.

And Gerrard showed she’d lost none of her trademark footwork and lightning reflexes in the Tala’s win over Fiji on Friday.

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STARTING SEVEN: GS Koenen, GA Austin, WA Watson, C Price, WD Brazill, GD Klau, GK Bruce

QUARTER BY QUARTER MATCH REPORT

It was the perfect start for Tonga when captain Hulita Veve got the intercept off the first centre pass of the match.

But when Veve got caught flat-footed moments later, Courtney Bruce pounced to knock the ball out to Ash Brazill and the match was back on centre pass.

Some bad hands gifted the Diamonds more possession which Cara Koenen converted to open an early lead.

Former Diamond Mo’onia Gerrard was handed a warning early in massive moment for her contact with Kiera Austin in the circle.

With Gerrard forced to pull out, the Aussies attack end pounced to open up a seven-goal advantage.

But when Bruce couldn’t clear the defensive end, Uneeq Palavi bravely opted to go off the post to get closer to goal in a move that brought the crowd to their feet.

Austin found space on the baseline to put an end to Tonga’s four-goal run late in the first term.

Some sloppy footwork from Diamonds skipper Liz Watson gifted the Talas another chance to convert, with Palavi found all alone at home.

At quarter time it was Australia leading 15-13.

SUPERSTAR GERRARD THE TALK OF THE TOWN

Mo’onia Gerrard is back – but not playing for Australia. The former Diamonds is leading Tonga as a 42-year-old mum of four.

“I love that she’s gone back to her heritage,” Fox Netball Kim Green praised of her former teammate Gerrard.

“She is 42 … she has done it so incredibly well.

“She is a competitor – what we expect from her is getting plenty of ball and niggle, niggle, niggle.”

The Diamonds will face more familiar faces to contend with, including former Silver Fern and Samoa representative Cat Tuivaiti, Quensland Firebirds injury replacement Hulita Veve, NSW Swifts replacement player Kelea Iongi and Collingwood Magpies training partner Uneeq Palavi.

Add in the fact NSW Swifts coach Briony Akle is a Tongan assistant and there’s plenty of insider knowledge being shared with the Diamonds’ rivals.

Tuivaiti was brutally honest speaking about her return to international netball for her third nation, with her sights firmly set on an upset gold medal.

“I just can’t say no to stuff … I think I can do this,” she told the Crowd Goes Wild NZ.

“I’m ready to go, I can still play netball.

“We are going for a gold medal – I know my role and it’s probably not the top shooting spot, I don’t give a sh*t. I’m there to make a difference.”

Diamonds and NZ start World Cup in style | 01:55

Tuivaiti was full of praise for Gerrard in her return to the court.

“Her passion for Tongan netball is actually something not celebrated as much,” she said.

“She has been working really hard to make sure netballers in Tonga are seen.

“This is massive for her.

“She’s been training her little t*ts off! She’s a bit of a rig at the moment.”

Having Akle on the Tongan coaching staff is another factor Diamonds coach Stacey Marinkovich will have to contend with, especially with Swifts Paige Hadley and Sarah Klau lining up for Australia.

“She’s going to bring lots of intel,” Catherine Cox said on Fox Netball.

This match gets underway from 7.10pm AEST.

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