Diamonds pushed through tough challenge over the Proteas

SOUTH Africa put up a fight out on court, but the Diamonds were too strong and got the game and series win 2-0 with a 15-goal win in Hobart.

It was a start to forget for both nations with the Diamonds getting a heels ball on the first centre pass, but South Africa threw away the ball near straight after.

The Proteas only scored two-goals in the opening five minutes, but that was because of the smothering Diamonds defence. It started with a Courtney Bruce (four deflections, three intercepts and two rebounds) intercept, and the Diamonds put their foot on the gas.

An even shooting load for both nations kept the defence ticking.

The Diamonds were not afraid to go cross court to get a better angle in attack for the ball to get to their shooters. This worked out really well for them because there was always an option of someone free in the backspace and someone driving into the front.

South Africa was struggling to get the ball into the attacking third, and Australia pounced on the loose balls getting a quick five-goal run. Scoring was mostly back and forth after that, but it was enough for the Diamonds to take the five-goal lead into the first break.

A relatively even second quarter came as both sides threw away simple passes. The attacking third was a struggle for both nations as it was increasingly difficult to get the ball into the shooting circle.

Sophie Dwyer’s (15 goals) second miss of the game proved costly, giving South Africa the chance to bring the score within one. Scores were level in the blink of an eye despite the Diamonds defence putting in the hard yards.

It was a sigh of relief for the Diamonds when their defenders came up with some turnovers. It got the ball rolling and they were able to convert down the other end for Cara Koenen (27 goals — 100 percent — 10 goal assists and three deflections) to pop the ball straight through the middle of the ring.

Australia led 32-25 at half time.

Phumza Maweni (two deflections, one intercept and one rebound) was unable to return back on court after copping a blow to the stomach earlier in the term. Once she exited the game, the Proteas looked shaky in defence and lost some of their structure and connections.

Australia changed all but two positions going into the second half, wanting some fresh legs against the competitive Proteas.

Player of the match Kamogelo Maseko (20 goals, 19 centre pass receives and 14 goal assists) played out of her skin in the third term, taking the bulk of the South African shooting load while doing a lot of work in attack. She had two off the post passes in the first that pleased many on court.

Down the other end, the ball was getting let go with so much freedom as the Diamonds had so much confidence in Koenen and Donnell Wallam (25 goals) who were pulling in every ball, shooting at a high volume, and accurately.

The Diamonds took a 50-38 lead going into the three quarter time.

The last 15 minutes looked like a training run for the Diamonds as they were able to get the ball down court with ease.

Australia came out victorious with a 67-52 win and can be relatively happy with the performance.

Turnovers were still too high for Australia with 19, but Proteas captain Bongiwe Msomi (17 feeds and 10 goal assists) had 10 of her own, just going to show how much influence she has on the game. Both shooting accuracies were good with 90 percent for the Diamonds and 89 for the Proteas.

Game by game, the margin slowly tightens and South Africa will aim to get the deficit under double digits ahead of the next test on Tuesday.

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