GLASGOW, 30 July – The Australian Netball Team has secured top spot in Pool B and their berth in the Commonwealth Games semi-finals with a 64-40 victory over South Africa in Glasgow on Wednesday.
Australia finishes the preliminary round undefeated for a fifth consecutive Commonwealth Games with five wins to book a semi-final playoff against Jamaica on Saturday.
Australian coach Lisa Alexander continued to be unpredictable by naming a different starting seven for a fifth consecutive game, opting for the shooting combination of Caitlin Bassett and Natalie Medhurst for the first time since the opening game against Wales.
All 12 players saw court time in the win, including midcourter Kimberley Ravaillion, who was sidelined for the game against Trinidad and Tobago on Monday after suffering a back injury during the warm up.
The Australians were in control from the beginning as they raced out to a 7-2 lead midway through the first quarter before South Africa called an injury time out in a bid to stem the momentum.
The stoppage proved fruitless as the Australians continued to extend their advantage as Bassett and Medhurst worked well in tandem to put the reigning world champions ahead 17-7 at quarter-time.
South Africa found scoring difficult early as 188cm sharp shooter Chrisna Bootha was shut down by Laura Geitz and Julie Corletto before being substituted at quarter-time for 20-year-old Leniza Potgieter.
Both sides were guilty of conceding possession with basic skill errors throughout the match as the Australians finished with 20 turnovers, one fewer than South Africa.
Leading 35-18 at half-time, Alexander turned to her bench to introduce on Bianca Chatfield for Julie Corletto at goal defence, Renae Hallinan for Sharni Layton at wing defence and Ravaillion at centre for Kim Green.
Australia’s grip on the contest was challenged after South Africa reshuffled their deck at half-time.
Little could separate the two sides after the main break as the Australians added just six goals to their advantage in the second half en route to the 24-goal victory.
We really wanted to stamp our authority today,” Medhurst said after the game.
“Now that we’re going to have two days (before the next match) and it was important to get our combinations right today.”
Australian captain Laura Geitz said afterwards that the team’s depth provides plenty of combination options for Alexander.
“I think Lisa’s got three options for the starting seven and she’s got a plan for either Jamaica or New Zealand,” Geitz said.
“We’ve got to be prepared for whoever we come up against.”
Our Semi-Final against Jamaica will be played on Saturday at either 10am (7pm AEST) or 12.15pm (9.15pm AEST). We will confirm when we know the time.