The Australian Netball Team has taken a step closer to securing a berth in the semi-finals at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games with a comfortable 77-27 victory over Barbados on Sunday.
The Australians, who remain undefeated after three games following victories over Wales and England, move two points clear at the top of Pool B with two games to play against Trinidad & Tobago and South Africa in the preliminary round.
Australian shooter Tegan Caldwell emphatically responded to her quarter-time substitution in Saturday’s one-goal win over England with a sublime four-quarter performance against the Caribbean nation.
The 25-year-old goal attack was given another opportunity to start the match and repaid coach Lisa Alexander’s faith to finish the game with 35 goals from 39 attempts (90 per cent), four deflections and an intercept.
Caldwell’s partner in attack, Caitlin Thwaites, also played her first full game for Australia in her seventh Test and finished with an international career high of 42 goals from 50 attempts, eclipsing her previous best of 41 goals set against Malawi last year.
The Australians were relentless in attack with quick and precise ball movement provided plenty of chances to Thwaites and Caldwell under the post while at the other end of the court Barbados were limited to just 34 attempts at goal for the match.
Thwaites brought up Australia’s 2000th Commonwealth Games goal midway through the first term en route to a commanding 20-9 lead at quarter-time.
A flurry of seven goals straight at start the second quarter saw the Australians pile on the scoreboard pressure as the combination between Kim Green (centre), Madi Robinson (wing attack), Thwaites and Caldwell flourished.
Trailing 38-13 at half-time, Barbados were again held scoreless for the first five minutes of the second half as Australia extended their advantage with eight unanswered goals in the opening minutes of the third quarter.
Barbados eventually broke Australia’s run of goals as shooters Nikita Piggott and Shonica Wharton, brought off the bench at half-time, scored three straight goals in response – the pair would eventually add 14 goals in the second half.
Australia finished the game with 22 fourth quarter goals to equal its most productive quarter at this year’s Commonwealth Games to run out 50-goal winners over the ninth ranked Barbados.
“I really liked the attacking flow today, I thought there was great connection between Kim (Green), Madi (Robinson) and Tegan (Caldwell), and that was important to get that right so I’m very pleased,” Alexander said post-match.
“We can’t just rely on one combination, we’ve got to have a lot of combinations firing so that we’ve got great unpredictability so it was terrific to see Kim getting back into the groove.”
Australia will play their third game in three days when they line up against Trinidad and Tobago on Monday at 11.30am (8.30pm AEST).