The Australian FAST5 Flyers have signalled their intentions with a dominant 34-13 victory over the Jamaican Sunshine Girls in the opening game of the FAST5 Netball World Series at Vector Arena in Auckland.
The Flyers have taken a fresh approach to FAST5, practising the shorter form of the game for months in a bid to go one better than their runner up finish to New Zealand in the 2013 tournament.
Shooter Kate Beveridge made it clear that the Flyers want to continue on from the outstanding form shown by the Australian Diamonds on the international stage in 2014.
“We are all really proud to be here representing our country and we want to finish off the year in the same way that the Diamonds have dominated,” Beveridge said.
Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls, who finished third in last year’s FAST5 campaign, struggled to get into their trademark rhythm throughout the match.
“We knew Australia was going to be tough, but we didn’t expect the final gap to be this big,” Jamaican defender Vangelee Williams said. “We have to learn to put more shots up to be competitive.”
Jamaican star Romelda Aiken scored the first goal of the tournament, playing back in her traditional goal shooter role after a turn in defence last year.
But neither side stamped their dominance on the game in the opening six-minute spell, with intense defence from both sides, particularly in the centre third of the court.
Taking a 5-1 lead into the second quarter, the Flyers established a better rhythm and understanding. The first three-point shot of 2014 from the hands of Beveridge in the final seconds of the quarter ensured they pushed their advantage a little further out and lead 17-7 at halftime.
“I’m a little bit nervous now, in case I have used up all of my good luck early,” Beveridge said. “It’s the ultimate shot that all players want to get without saying we want to get it.”
Australia put their powerplay, where all points are doubled, into great effect into the third spell.
Aiken, switching to goal keep, threatened to be a thorn in the Flyers’ side, using her incredible leap to tip shots away from the net. But it wasn’t enough to stop shooters Beveridge, Erin Bell and Karen Bailey firing the Flyers out to a 31-11 lead.
Goal keeper Kate Shimmin and goal defence Clare McMeniman made sure the Jamaicans worked hard for every point they got in their powerplay in the final quarter, to the point where they were restricted to only one goal.
Beveridge admitted the Flyers still had plenty to improve on in their next match against South Africa: “Hopefully we can use our powerplay better to give us more leeway.”
The Flyers are back on court against South Africa at 1.15pm (AEDT).