Diamonds challenged in Quad Series victory
A late shock out for the Australian Diamonds threw a spanner in the works for their Northern Quad Series campaign, however after a tough first half the Diamonds were able to settle against fifth ranked South Africa to come out with a strong 45 – 62 win.
Losing Diamonds captain, Caitlin Bassett to a fractured forearm shook up the Diamonds camp last week, however with ex-Magpies gamemaker and new Melbourne Vixen Caitlin Thwaites sitting on the bench and GIANTS goaler Kiera Austin on standby for an international call-up, the Aussies were able to settle.
The South African Spar Proteas came out confidently to start the game, taking advantage of the Diamonds’ errors with quick hands and speedy passes early in the game, putting on a show of pushing through the Diamonds circle defence and putting the Aussies on edge.
The Diamonds had a messy start with crowding down their attacking end. The combined effort of Courtney Bruce, April Brandley, Gabi Simpson and defensive centre Kate Moloney worked tirelessly to hassle the ball back and move through the midcourt, effectively keeping the Aussies in the game through the first quarter.
South Africa capitalised on the Diamonds’ early errors, leading at the end of the first quarter 16 – 11, but it was the long arms of Phumza Maweni and agility of Karla Pretorius that kept the Spar Proteas in touch with the Aussies despite their own sloppy attacking end.
Maweni and Pretorius were gamebreakers in the early stages of the game, deflecting passes and making circle feeding difficult for the Aussies. Their jump time was impeccable, allowing for defensive rebounds and scaring the Australian side.
Down the attacking end for South Africa, Bongi Msomi was on fire with her feeds and passing into the goal circle with pinpoint accuracy. A slow start from Australian wing defence Gabi Simpson allowed Msomi space to move around the circle and gave opportunities to feed.
Lenize Potgieter starred early in goals for the Spar Proteas, making space and holding ground, shooting 35/40 at 87 per cent accuracy. The South African shooters were almost clinical in their approach to the goals, not fussing with extra feeds and taking the shot.
Australia started the second quarter with Jo Weston taking the court to start in goal defence and Jamie Lee-Price following into wing defence midway through the quarter, relegating April Brandley and Gabi Simpson to the bench after a busy first quarter. South Africa did not make any changes after a strong and confident first quarter, but did not seem to have the same confidence when faced with the changes made by the Aussies.
The attacking goal circle for the Aussies was a nightmare in the second quarter, with Maweni and Pretorius taking on every opportunity to make the attackers’ lives difficult. Caitlin Thwaites and Gretel Tippett had moments of greatness, but coupled with their shaky start they struggled with consistency against the tough defence.
Thwaites and Tippett settled in goals and were able to finish up the first half with a two goal lead (25 – 27), with Thwaites shooting 12 goals from 13 attempts in the second quarter to bring Australia back into the game.
Thwaites sat on the bench for the second half of the game as Steph Wood took over in goal shooter. Thwaites will be happy with her 94 per cent shooting average, shooting 17 from 18, but keen to prove herself over the next week to ensure full court time against New Zealand and England next week.
Steph Wood, regularly a goal attack, stood up confidently to play out the game in the unfamiliar position of goal shooter and shoot 15 from 18 for the half. Despite her skill in goals, Wood’s height was a big problem early in the third before settling into the game. Tippett played a full game in her native goal attack and starred in captain Bassett’s absence, shooting 30 from 32 for Australia.
Also taking the court in the third quarter was Kelsey Browne, replacing Liz Watson in wing attack as Watson took over from Vixens teammate Kate Moloney in centre. Down the other end, South African shooter Ine-Mari Venter replaced Maryka Holtzhausen in goals.
A tight third quarter looked to set up a close final quarter with Australia only ahead by five points at the end of the third term, but a strong 19 goal to seven final quarter brought the end score to a strong 17-goal win for Australia, 45 – 62.
Australian coach Lisa Alexander rotated all twelve players on the bench throughout the game, telling media that all players should be given the opportunity to play their role for the team and country.
South Africa coach Norma Plummer will be happy with her side’s performance in the opening three quarters, however will be rueing the chance of taking down a dilapidated Australian lineup after such a strong start.
RSA STARTING SEVEN
GS: Lenize Potgieter
GA: Maryka Holtzhausen
WA: Bongi Msomi (C)
C: Erin Burger
WD: Shadine Van der Merwe
GD: Karla Pretorius
GK: Phumza Maweni
BENCH: Khanyisa Chawane, Rome Dreyer, Renske Stoltz, Ine-Mari Venter, Zanele Vimbela
AUS STARTING SEVEN
GS: Caitlin Thwaites
GA: Gretel Tippett
WA: Liz Watson
C: Kate Moloney
WD: Gabi Simpson
GD: April Brandley
GK: Courtney Bruce
BENCH: Kelsey Browne, Emily Mannix, Jamie-Lee Price, Jo Weston, Steph Wood