Clean sweep for Australia in South Africa series
A DOMINANT 77-50 win by the Australian Diamonds saw them get a clean sweep in Hobart in their three test series against South Africa.
History was on the Diamonds side winning all 46 of their outings against South Africa since their first meeting in 1963. The last nine out of 10 games were won by 15 goals or more.
Player of the Match Liz Watson (44 feeds, 31 goal assists and 27 centre pass receives) was huge the whole game. The feeds from Watson into Donnell Wallam (28 goals) were perfect and from the circle edge every time. Watson had no trouble at all getting the ball in the right space. It looked as though she was able to run into any space she wanted.
Wallam could grab just about any ball in the air, even making the bad passes look good. It only took 12 and a half minutes for the proteas to change up their defensive structure with Watson dominating the game too much for South Africa’s liking.
The Australians were really the play perfectly down the defensive end and their full court transition went with pace.
South Africa had an excessive amount of turnovers in the first quarter alone, eight to Australia’s three. This didn’t help reduce the 11-goal quarter time deficit as Australia got their highest quarter score for the series with 22.
An unsung hero for the Diamonds was Cara Koenen (15 goals and 12 feeds) who has taken a massive step up into goal attack in the Diamonds environment. She had speed to burn which is a bit deceiving as she lives on the baseline. Her finesse on the feeds into Wallam were also perfect while putting up a fairly decent amount of shots as well in another 100 per cent game.
The key to the success in the second quarter was Australia’s defensive structures, which worked wonders to disrupt the South Africa attack line.
The box defence continuously closed off options in the Proteas attack end and gave either Courtney Bruce (three intercepts, two deflections and one rebound) or Sunday Aryang (two deflections, one rebound) the chance to go out for a fly, which paid off most of the time. South Africa were making the same leads to the ball and telegraphing the passes, giving the perfect opportunity for Australia to win possession.
Nicola Smith (seven deflections, three intercepts and one rebound) was a stand out for the Proteas in this test, getting a hand to the ball in several plays, but none went to their advantage. It hurt the Proteas already having 20 turnovers at half-time. That is how much ball they were coughing up normally after a game, not after a half. That was certainly an area of concern in the Proteas camp as Khanyisa Chawane (19 feeds and 13 goal assists) had eight of them.
The changes were rung at half time as Watson was the only Diamond to keep her position out on court. It did impact the connections out on court for Australia as South Africa maintained in the contest with a fairly even quarter, 15-14.
A significantly better quarter from the Proteas was off the hand of Ine-Marí Venter (38 goals) and Refiloe Nketsa (17 feeds, 10 goal assists) as each player knew where each other were going. Nketsa committed to the drives and looked straight into the circle for Venter who had a solid night under the post shooting at 88 percent.
Australia still kept a 57-36 score going into the last break.
It was a much better quarter from Australia, not perfect, but better. The ball was getting into the circle better as the vision opened up as the placement of the pass was getting to the target efficiently.
The third quarter lapse by Australia prevented them from hitting the bit 80, nearly reaching their biggest score against South Africa, but just fell short. The Diamonds did win this series 3-0 and end their 2023 international season on a high.