The Australian Diamonds started their Netball World Cup title defence in emphatic style, defeating a determined Trinidad & Tobago outfit 73-32 on the opening night of the 2015 tournament at Sydney’s Allphones Arena.
The 41-goal victory over the Calypso Girls, in the 1000th Netball World Cup match, was Australia’s 20th consecutive victory to equal the country’s third longest winning streak achieved previously between 2001-2003.
Australian goal shooter Caitlin Thwaites enjoyed her Netball World Cup debut, finishing with a game-high 26 goals at 81 per cent accuracy – all coming in the second half.
Thwaites took advantage of a tiring Calypso Girls’ defence in the last quarter, scoring 18 goals at 90 per cent accuracy in the final term.
The Diamonds looked to stamp their dominance from the opening seconds when defender Sharni Layton pulled off an intercept on the second pass of the match.
Erin Bell, who earned the starting goal attack bib in her first international appearance since October 2013, scored Australia’s opening goal.
After withstanding an early Trinidad & Tobago burst in the opening five minutes, the Diamonds scored 11 unanswered goals to break the match open with Bell and Caitlin Bassett both shooting at 100 per cent for the opening term.
Australia scored the first two goals of second term before young Trinidad & Tobago shooter Samantha Wallace broke the Diamonds’ 13-goal run.
The Calypso Girls enjoyed a more productive second term but Kim Ravaillion controlled the midcourt and the Bassett-Bell combination was only too willing to finish off her good work as Australia led by 19 goals at half-time.
Coach Lisa Alexander swung the changes to start the second half with Thwaites and Natalie Medhurst replacing Bassett and Bell in the goal circle while youngster Paige Hadley (wing attack) and experienced duo Rebecca Bulley (wing defence) and Julie Corletto (goal defence) all scored their first court time of the campaign.
The new-look line-up continued to impart Australia’s dominance on the contest and the lead stretched to 25 goals by three-quarter time.
Bell showed her versatility by taking the wing attack bib in the final term while captain Laura Geitz took a well-earned rest with Layton stepping into goal keeper and Corletto out to wing defence.
Australia produced its best quarter of the match in the last term, outscoring Trinidad & Tobago 22-6.
The Diamonds are back in action at Allphones Arena on Saturday afternoon against another Caribbean nation in Barbados, which lost to New Zealand in its opening match, from 3.20pm (AEST).
Official Result & Statistics
AUSTRALIAN DIAMONDS (73) defeated TRINIDAD & TOBAGO (32)
Australian Diamonds shooting statistics:
Caitlin Thwaites 26/32 (81%)
Erin Bell 18/19 (94%)
Caitlin Bassett 17/18 (94%)
Natalie Medhurst 12/15 (80%)
Trinidad & Tobago shooting statistics:
Samantha Wallace 11/14 (78%)
Kalifa McCollin 10/11 (90%)
Afeisha Noel 6/11 (54%)
Joelisa Cooper 5/7 (71%)
Click here for complete match statistics