Diamonds beat Jamaica to book NZ showdown

The Australian Diamonds have enjoyed a huge 72-51 win over Jamaica in their final preliminary match of the Commonwealth Games to book a place in the semi-finals.

The Diamonds will now play Trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand on Saturday, with the Silver Ferns finishing second in Pool B after losses to England and Malawi.

Lightning ball movement and suffocating defence in the midcourt and defensive circle underpinned the Diamonds fifth win of the tournament, with the Diamonds unleashing their best performance to date.

Contributions came from every player in every position as Australia showed why they are gold medal favourites at the Games.

Caitlin Bassett, Courtney Bruce, Susan Pettitt, Kimberley Ravaillion, Madi Robinson, Gabi Simpson and Jo Weston were handed the starting spots for the Diamonds as coach Lisa Alexander continued to rotate her roster.

The Diamonds shot out of the blocks early, putting out arguably their best performance in the first quarter.

The midcourt combination of Robinson (eight assists, one intercept) and Ravaillion (six assists) brought a tempo that Jamaica could not match and the Diamonds led 21-14 at the first change.

Jamaica posted 17 penalties in the first quarter as they attempted to halt the Australian assault, but the Diamonds weathered those contests and continued scoring freely.

The Diamonds threatened to run away with the match in the second quarter, opening up a nine-goal lead, but Jamaica showed their class to fight back.

A five-goal run slashed the deficit to just five, while their defensive zone halted the Australian march up court.

A couple of late goals gave Australia some comfort, with the half-time margin 36-29.

Veteran Susan Pettitt, who missed out on selection for the squad that claimed gold at Glasgow in 2014, came into the third quarter with a flawless shooting record, and though she finally missed one, she again produced the goods against Jamaica’s tall timber.

The lineup was changed dramatically in the second half with Laura Geitz, Caitlin Thwaites, April Brandley and Liz Watson brought into the action.

That third quarter has been the Diamonds’ trademark all tournament, and that continued with a 13-6 run that opened the game up.

Steph Wood, one of Australia’s best players against Fiji, was injected into the fray in the final quarter after leaving with a blood nose in the last match.

Australian will New Zealand for a place in the gold medal match at 3pm on Saturday.