Friends become rivals with grand prize at stake

Two months ago Laura Geitz and Romelda Aiken were celebrating the Queensland Firebirds’ memorable ANZ Championship triumph.

This afternoon the Firebirds teammates will become opponents for a much bigger prize when Geitz leads the Australian Diamonds into battle against Aiken and her Jamaican teammates at the Netball World Cup SYDNEY 2015.

A place in the Gold Medal match against either New Zealand or England is the reward for the winner.

It’s the second consecutive Netball World Cup that the Diamonds and Sunshine Girls have faced off in the semi-finals.

At Singapore in 2011 Australia triumphed 82-46 and the Diamonds have never lost to Jamaica at the Netball World Cup in 11 previous meetings.

Geitz knows Aiken’s game inside out. She’s trained against her weekly for the past eight seasons and has been her opponent at international level several times, including last year’s Commonwealth Games semi-final in Glasgow.

Nullifying Aiken is a challenge she’ll embrace today when they take to the court at 2.20pm (AEST).

“It’s like coming up against one of your best mates, but we’re pretty experienced at doing that,” Geitz said.

“I think we’ve both got very competitive bones in our bodies so you put everything aside for 60 minutes.

“At the end of it you hope to walk off and still both be in one piece and smiling. Hopefully get the result we’re after.

“I enjoy playing Romelda – she’s the best at what she does and I think, for me, that’s a challenge and that’s what I enjoy the most.”

Along with Aiken the Jamaicans also have prolific goalscoring machine Jhainele Fowler-Reid to call on.

Aiken has scored 157 goals for the tournament at 93 per cent accuracy with Fowler-Reid chipping in with 127 goals at 91 per cent.

Aiken and Fowler-Reid scored a combined tally of 1255 goals in the 2015 ANZ Championship season.

At times throughout the tournament Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander has mixed up her defensive combinations with Geitz, Sharni Layton, Rebecca Bulley and Julie Corletto all getting an opportunity to push for a starting position.

Corletto sat out Australia’s last two wins over South Africa and Wales and is fit and ready for the weekend’s finals action.

Geitz knows whatever combinations Alexander puts out today will get the job done and see the Diamonds advance to Sunday’s Grand Final.

“I don’t know (who will start),” Geitz said. “Lisa’s putting girls out there and the girls are doing the job. She can call on anyone, I’m confident that anyone in this 12 can do the job.”

Australia’s semi-final against Jamaica will be broadcast live on FOX SPORTS, Network TEN and via the Netball Live app, available to download from the App Store and Google Play. Check your local guides for match details.