Diamonds close in on semi-final berth

2015 World Netball Cup Allphones Arena Australia v Sth Africa

The Australian Diamonds took a significant step towards securing a major semi-final berth at the Netball World Cup SYDNEY 2015 after beating South Africa 66-31 in the qualification round.

The 35-goal victory at Allphones Arena lifts the Diamonds into top spot of Pool F with one match to play in the qualification rounds to determine the two teams that will advance to the semi finals against the top two sides from Pool E on Saturday.

A career-best shooting performance by Erin Bell at international level was the highlight of what was a clinical performance by the Diamonds.

In a brilliant display, Bell finished with 33 goals at 94 per cent accuracy in her first ever full game for Australia.

At the opposite end of the court, Sharni Layton was a dominant figure firstly at goal keeper and then at goal defence. She had an equal game-high seven intercepts along with five deflections and grabbed eight rebounds.

Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander mixed up her starting line-up and rested Julie Corletto, Caitlin Bassett and vice-captain Kimberlee Green.

Bell took advantage of being given her first starting position since the opening match against Trinidad & Tobago to get the Diamonds off to a flying start, scoring the first five goals of the game.

With Paige Hadley starting at wing attack and lively in the midcourt, Australia blitzed the Proteas in the opening minutes, scoring the opening 11 goals of the game before South Africa put up its first shot.

The Diamonds’ defence of Layton and Rebecca Bulley only allowed the Proteas seven shots for the opening term while, at the other end, Bell and Caitlin Thwaites were in ominous form as Australia went to quarter-time with a commanding 23-5 lead.

It was Australia’s best opening term of the tournament and equal best scoring quarter overall.

Bell continued to put on a shooting display in the second term as Australia continued to build on its lead. She had 18 goals on the board before her first miss came in the dying seconds on the half.

Alexander shuffled her midcourt and defence to start the second half with Kim Ravaillion given a well-deserved spell, Renae Hallinan taking over the centre bib and captain Laura Geitz coming onto the court at goal keeper.

Australia led by 33 goals at three-quarter time and South Africa enjoyed its most productive period of the match in the last term to avoid its lowest ever score against Australia at the Netball World Cup.

But the Diamonds maintained their 100 per cent winning record over the Proteas and also secured their second biggest victory against South Africa in their fifth Netball World Cup meeting.

Australia’s final match of the qualification round is on Friday night against Wales at Allphones Arena in what will be the two countries first Netball World Cup meeting in 24 years.

Official Result & Statistics
AUSTRALIAN DIAMONDS (66) defeated SOUTH AFRICA (31)

Australian Diamonds shooting statistics:
Erin Bell 33/35 (94%)
Caitlin Thwaites 33/38 (87%)

South Africa shooting statistics:
Lenize Potgieter 21/27 (77%)
Elsje du Plessis 7/12 (58%)
Maryka Holtzhausen 2/2 (100%)
Lindie Lombard 1/3 (33%)