Diamonds take unassailable lead over England

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The Australian Diamonds have taken an unassailable lead in their three-Test series against England after scoring a 60-44 victory over the Roses at London’s Copper Box Arena.

A dominant second half performance saw the Diamonds claim the series with goal keeper Sharni Layton again a towering presence in defence, named Player of the Match for the second consecutive Test.

Caitlin Thwaites played the whole match at goal shooter and finished with a game-high 38 goals while the experienced Natalie Medhurst shot 15 goals without a miss as Australia took a 2-0 lead.

Medhurst finished the match with 15 goals at 100 per cent accuracy.

The Diamonds were challenged during the second quarter by England and Layton, who had a game-high seven deflections and six intercepts, said it was pleasing to see them control the tempo of the game and regain their ascendancy.

“After (the first Test) being such a tight, close match we really wanted to step up again,” Layton said post-game.

“We need to be more consistent. We started really strong defensively and then had a bit of a lapse and let them back in.

“So we really need to make sure when we do come out strong like that, we really put the foot down. We still want to have the perfect performance and that’s what were always striving to achieve.

“But we’ve got so many new combinations that are continuing to build and it’s so exciting for the Diamonds.”

Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander made one change to her starting line-up from the opening Test in Liverpool with Liz Watson beginning in centre.

Australia got away to a flying start scoring the first five goals of the match before England settled and fought back to level the scores at quarter-time.

The Roses got on top early in the second term through defenders Ama Agbeze and Eboni Beckford-Chambers, who were able to nullify Australia’s shooters Thwaites and Gretel Tippett for an extended period.

The Diamonds struggled to curtail the attacking flair of English midcourters Sara Bayman and Sasha Corbin and shooters Helen Housby and Rachel Dunn lifted as the Roses pulled out to a four-goal lead.

But the Diamonds were able to turn that around with some timely intercepts by Watson and Layton again changing the momentum of the match.

An ankle problem forced Tippett of the court late in the quarter with Medhurst moving to goal attack and Paige Hadley coming into wing attack.

The Diamonds finished off the quarter strongly to regain the lead and take a two-goal advantage into the main break.

Australia enjoyed its best quarter of the series to date in the third term with Layton proving a brick wall in defence and the combination of Watson and Hadley feeding plenty of supply into Thwaites and Medhurst, which they converted.

The Diamonds won the quarter 19-10 and powered away to an 11-goal lead heading into the final quarter.

Acting captain Clare McMeniman was given a spell for the final 15 minutes, replaced at goal defence by April Brandley (nee Letton) while Ashleigh Brazill finished off the match at wing defence after Gabi Simpson left the court for treatment.

Australia shut out any hopes of an England fightback in the last term with the lead blowing out to 18 goals at one stage.

Alexander is now aiming to make a clean sweep of the series, which concludes in London on Monday morning (AEDT).

“Plenty of areas to work on,” Alexander said. “We’re still not happy with our defensive work for the full 15 minutes of a quarter, particularly on their quick transition. So we’ll do a bit of homework on that and come up with a system to slow them down.”

Official Result & Statistics
AUSTRALIAN DIAMONDS (60) defeated ENGLAND (44)

Australian Diamonds shooting statistics
Caitlin Thwaites 38/44 (86%)
Natalie Medhurst 15/15 (100%)
Gretel Tippett 7/13 (54%)

England shooting statistics
Helen Housby 20/23 (87%)
Rachel Dunn 14/16 (87%)
Natalie Haythornthwaite 10/14 (71%)

Click here for complete match statistics.