Diamonds Continue their Winning Ways

Netball | Published: Thu 25 January 2018

The Samsung Diamonds have started 2018 with a bang, claiming two from two wins in their opening matches of the 2018 Netball Quad Series in London.

Game one against the South Africa SPAR Proteas ended with a score margin few would've predicted, the Proteas finishing a mere four goals behind the world number ones, 54-50.

In years gone by South Africa were unable to stick with the Australians for the full 60-minutes however Diamonds Head Coach, Lisa Alexander made it very clear that they are now a strong side which should not be underestimated. 
"People need to understand that South Africa is no longer a team that you can beat by 20 goals. That's very clear; they have improved enormously."
With the introduction of ex-Australian coach, Norma Plummer to the Head Coach position in South Africa the proteas have gone form strength to strength, challenging Australia all over the court.
The Samsung Diamonds made a strong start to their opening game with shooter Caitlin Thwaites and Gretel tippet shooting at 100% accuracy for the first term, giving their side a three goal lead at the first break.
The second quarter saw South Africa hit back, slowly chipping away to take a one goal lead into the main break.
Alexander made two changes to her side for the second half bringing Susan Pettitt into goal attack and Kate Moloney on to centre. 
The change proved invaluable as the pair provided both fresh legs and variation in the Australians' attacking half.
With just minutes left in the third, WAIS athlete Caitlin Bassett entered the game in goal shooter helping her side to enter three quarter time with a one goal lead.
Again mixing up her team, Alexander placed Emily Mannix into goal keeper for the final term, replacing Western Australian, Courtney Bruce, whilst Kim Ravaillion returned to centre. 
The last five minutes saw Australia prove why they are the world's best, putting their foot down to run away with a four goal victory. 
"It was an extremely tough game. We knew it was going to be like that, the physicality was there, which we had spoken about during our preparations," said Diamonds wing attack, Liz Watson.
"It was a grind, but we found a way and that's something we pride ourselves on. We'll take a lot of things from that game."
Two days later the Samsung Diamonds returned to the court to take on the home side, the England Roses.
Another close game saw Australia, once again, finish on top, 50-46.
Three changes to the starting line up from the first test included Western Australian, Caitlin Bassett being given the nod in goal shooter.
Courtney Bruce also, similarly to the first match, began the game back in goal keeper. 
Thanks to patience and precision form the Australians throughout the first quarter they were able to give themselves a comfortable lead heading into the first break, 16-11. 
In an effort to mix up their game and regain some ground on their opposition the English made changes to both their wing defence and goal defence before and during the second term respectively.
The Australians held their nerve, continuing to push forward extending their lead to seven by half time.
Using the depth on her bench, Alexander brought April Brandley into goal defence to commence the third term, later bringing Pettitt in to goal attack with five minutes to go on the clock.
Following the substitution in the third, the roses were able to gain some momentum scoring the last six goals of the quarter to bring the score margin down to three at the final break.
Both teams made changes for the final quarter, the Samsung Diamonds returning to their starting seven.
Throughout the last quarter the Australians took advantage of their opportunities, making the most of any errors from the home side to run away with a four goal victory.
Lisa Alexander said "we had worked on our patience, and they were very disciplined on maintaining connections out on the court, I was delighted. Particularly with the transition out of defence when we got a turnover, there was much improvement on the first game."
"One of the things we talk about is to look to each other, and change things up if we need to. When out opposition gets a bit of a run on, sometimes we need to change things in attack and defence. We did that a few times with positional switches."
The Diamonds have now travelled to Johannesburg in preparation for their final match of the Quad Series against the New Zealand Silver Ferns on Sunday at 6:00pm (AWST).
  • Annika Lee-Jones