22 February, 2024
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Diamonds beat South Africa by 19 in first Test

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Australia have bounced back from successive Constellation Cup losses and a quick turnaround to score a 62-43 win over South Africa in Cairns.

Just two days after their loss to the Silver Ferns in New Zealand, the world champions won every quarter in the first match of their three-game series.

Seven straight goals in the first quarter and six in a row in the last were the Diamonds two big scoring surges, as they notched a 14th win from 17 matches this year.

 The Diamonds dominated all quarters in Wednesday’s win over South Africa in Cairns. Image by Brian Cassey/AAP PHOTOS 

Given the short turnaround between matches, Diamonds coach Stacey Marinkovich opted to make multiple changes to her starting side on Wednesday.

Among those rested were captain and midcourt general Liz Watson and dominant goalkeeper Courtney Bruce, though the former came on  for the final quarter.

Fifth-ranked South Africa scored the first two goals, but trailed by eight, 10 and 14 at the end of the first three quarters.

Australia shot at 86 per cent but turned over the ball 19 times, though their pressure forced South Africa into 25 of their own with the Proteas also incurred many more penalties than the hosts.

“We got quite a bit of ball but didn’t get our long-court conversion happening,” Marinkovich said.

“There’s certainly areas for improvement, but given I’ve got three new players into the group we haven’t actually been able to train given we just had to get here.

 “It was a bit clunky at times but I think there was some good stuff to take from it as well.” 

Bruce’s replacement Sarah Klau produced a player-of-the-match performance, while Thunderbirds Super Netball title-winning defender Matilda Garrett made her Diamonds debut after being brought on for the second half.

“It was so exciting, I feel like it was just an absolute whirlwind,” Garrett said.

She quickly made an impression with some gains and intercepts and supplemented the impressive Klau, who notched nine gains, with wing defence Amy Parmenter also strong.

“She left her mark on the court,” Marinkovich said of Garrett.

Shooters Sophie Garbin (31/35) and Sophie Dwyer (15/18) proved reliable targets through the first three quarters, with Donnell Wallam (9/11)and Cara Koenen (7/8) maintaining the consistency when they came on for the final period.

Proteas and former Diamonds coach Norma Plummer was pretty pleased with her team’s performance given their lack of game preparation.

“Since the World Cup we haven’t seen each other since we got here on the 17th (October), so we’ve had no match play at all until that game,” Plummer said.

 South African goalshooter Ine-Marí Venter was the Proteas’ main threat. Image by Brian Cassey/AAP PHOTOS 

“There’s a lot of resilience.”

Ine-Mari Venter shot 24 of 28 for South Africa and Rolene Streutker 12 of 13.

The series continues with matches in Hobart next Sunday and Tuesday.

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