Australia flourish after half-time stress

THE Australian Diamonds took a step closer to finals after a close encounter with the Malawi Queens, pushing out an equal half-time score to come away 24-goal victors. The Diamonds notched up a 70-46 performance over an impressive Malawi Queens who have proved to shake up the pools. 

It was a close start for Australia, quickly taking a three-goal buffer heading into the first break off the hand of some strong shooting and the formidable shooting combination which will be the biggest pain for other sides that will face Australia in the next coming days.

A quick three-goal run gave the Diamonds some breathing room in the first term, but Malawi quickly responded going goal for goal, denying Australia a chance to pull away at their slight lead.

The Queens returned two three-goal runs of their own and back in the contest, challenging the Diamonds until the last whistle declaring half-time. The shift of Towera Vinkhumbo back into her familiar position of goal keeper shook Cara Koenen (14 goals) and kept her to only four goals for the term compared to her 10 in the first.

An all-round attacking game for both sides was reflected in the amount of ball back won for each nation with Australia notching up 14 gains compared to Malawi’s six. What ultimately exposed the Queens was their 24 turnovers, still relatively good, but untouchable compared to the Diamonds 14. Again, staying relatively clean.

The work of Player of the Match Steph Wood (18 goals, 17 feeds and 13 goal assists) out the front of the circle is what opened up Koenen on the baseline, having the amazing game smarts of knowing when to grind it out outside of the shooting circle and when to inject herself into the action, take the front space and the goal or dish it off to Koenen right under the post.

Diamonds captain Liz Watson (28 feeds, 24 centre pass receives, 20 goal assists, 19 second phase receives) stepped up to the occasion taking more control of the ball in the third term while having great vision into newly injected Sophie Garbin (28 goals, four pick ups, two deflections, two rebounds). Watson’s ability to hit circle edge with ease was flawless and the slick feeds into Garbin put her in a prime position to send the ball straight through the ring.

Defensive pressure was at a high in the third term as intercept machine Courtney Bruce kept Malawi shooting star Joyce Mvula (25) to just two goals for the term. Bruce did not get much hand to the ball, but it was her footwork that confused the space and the misfeeds that led to the turnovers where the Diamonds were able to punish the Queens and convert from their turnovers.

The fourth quarter was very much similar to the third with the same quarter score of 21 – 9. It was not all doom and gloom for Malawi as they can take several positives and learnings out of this game. They kept Australia to their tightest challenge yet, they had a very even attacking load in the midcourt with Thandie Galleta and Takondwa Lwazi sharing the work outside of the circle where the ball was going into either Mvula or Mwai Kumwenda as they had another game with an even shooting load.

Australia’s consistency in attack ultimately reaped the benefits breaking out of that half-time draw to that dominant win, but the Australians would look at a better first quarter performance after somewhat dropping the last few. Malawi need to find some four quarter consistency and need to take a step up in defence as the shooters have been extremely accurate, needing to reward the side for their efforts.

Australia will go on to face arguably their biggest competitor in the pool stages in England in the next few days where Malawi will face rising stars in Tonga following their break.

Barbados (55) defeated Singapore (50)

The Bajan Gems just got themselves over the line over an unexpected Singapore. The amount of changes to Singapore’s line up did not allow time for them to understand the new combination thrown at them, allowing for Barbados to take advantage. Like in previous games, Singapore needed to be able to finish off at the post more as they took three more attempts than Barbados but just fell short of five goals.

Angelina Lim had a big outing for Singapore with her 38 feeds and 19 goal assists, clearly the dominant ball carrier for her side with the ball heading towards Amandeep Chahal’s (39) way majority of the time.

Kadeen Corbin (41) has really been a revelation for the Bajan Gems after being in and out of the England environment for numerous years. It seems as though she has gained her confidence back in the shooting circle as she is able to slot in big numbers at a high accuracy this whole tournament. Her flair going to the post adds some spice to the game while also being able to shift between each shooting role.

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