Diamond debutant Donnell overcomes ‘toughest few weeks of my life’ to score last-second winning goal

A lay-up goal by Diamonds debutante Donnell Wallam in the dying seconds has secured a thrilling 55-54 victory over England in their opening Test in Newcastle.

England levelled in the final minute through Eleanor Cardwell but Wallam sealed the win with a stunning goal before she was swamped by her joyful teammates.

She became just the third First Nations woman to don the green and gold and the first in more than two decades when she ran on in the final quarter to a massive cheer from the crowd.

After being in the spotlight in the lead up for her opposition to sponsors Hancock Prospecting and blamed by some quarters when they dumped their $15 million deal, she settled her nerves with an immediate goal before finishing with eight from eight attempts.

An emotional Wallam told Kayo Sports the “outside noise” over the last few weeks had taken a toll.

“I was relieved to finally get my chance on court – it’s been some of the toughest few weeks of my life,” said the 28-year-old, a Noongar woman from Western Australia.

“To finally get out there and just play in this dress was just really special and it makes the last couple of weeks feel like a blur.

“I just hope that I’m now a role model to the young girls and boys coming through.”

The Australians got off to a strong start but couldn’t shake England with the teams level at 14-14 after the first quarter.

A huge penalty count started to take its toll on the Diamonds, who racked up 40 to England’s 24 in the first half.

But the Australians only trailed by one – 27-26 – at the main break with wing attack Maddy Proud dominating through the mid-court.

Cardwell, who will play for Adelaide Thunderbirds in next year’s Super Netball competition, did the bulk of the damage in the goal circle and finished the match with 44 goals from 48 attempts.

As they did in last Sunday’s Constellation Cup win, the Australians dominated the third quarter to take control for the first time, leading 42-39 heading into the final term.

Diamonds coach Stacey Marinkovich continued to ring the changes but England, who were left smarting after missing the medals at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, refused to go away.

It looked like it would go to extra time but a turnover by Kate Moloney sent the ball back Australia’s way with Wallam delivering the win.

Marinkovich was excited to test her depth and come up trumps.

“There’s been a lot of emotion around the team but you see that this is every player’s happy place – they love being out on court and they love the big moment,” said Marinkovich.

“It was really good to get all of our players out there and obviously for Donnell to hit the court.

“We had a new group out there, new combinations, so it’s really exciting for the depth that we’ve got.”

She said there were areas to work on before game two in Sydney on Sunday and the third Test in Brisbane next Thursday.

“We need to have a look at our defensive impact across the entire court, we were a bit flat-footed … and our penalties are double at the moment, we’ve got to really look at that.”


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