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Diamonds dominant in bruising encounter against England
The Australian Diamonds will go into the final game of the 2012 Quad-Series against the Silver Ferns undefeated after beating England 57-35 at TECT Arena in Tauranga, New Zealand, on Sunday.
Captain Natalie von Bertouch returned to the starting line up for her first game back from injury as coach Lisa Alexander opted for the same seven that defeated the New Zealand Silver Ferns in Sydney last week.
Both sides were guilty of sloppy starts, England conceded possession on nine occasions while the Australians handed over the ball seven times as neither team could find much rhythm in the first quarter.
Susan Pratley, celebrating her 50th international Test appearance, shouldered much of shooting burden early while Catherine Cox found her range with the goal attack converting seven goals from nine attempts as Cox went five from ten.
The Australians improved their ball retention in the second quarter which they converted into scoreboard pressure as wing attack Madison Browne worked her magic around the circle edge for 12 goal assists in the first-half alone.
A goal from Pratley on the stroke of half-time gave Australia their largest margin of the game as they went into the break with a 13-goal lead.
Alexander made just the one change for the second half with Mo’onia Gerrard introduced at wing attack for Renae Hallinan while keeping her faith in the Cox and Pratley combination.
Cox, celebrating her 104th international appearance to equal Vicki Wilson as the third most capped player in Australian netball, immediately repaid Alexander with six quick goals to see the Diamonds extend their advantage to 19 goals before England called an injury time.
Despite England coach Anna Mayes reshuffling her on court line up, little could be done to stem the Australian’s flow of scoring as the Quad-Series leaders extended their advantage to 21 goals at three-quarter time.
With less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Diamonds were forced to make another change in the attacking circle with the introduction of Caitlin Bassett at goal shooter after Cox suffered a knock on her thigh, though it brought little reprieve for England.
Changes at three-quarter time saw shooter Erin Bell partner Bassett in attack for the last 15 minutes while Gerrard was moved back to goal defence as Hallinan was reintroduced at wing defence.
The physical encounter saw a number of players on the end of heavy knocks throughout the game however it was a case of one to many when captain von Bertouch was replaced late in the fourth quarter after hitting the court hard.
The fourth quarter saw little change to the margin as the Diamonds held on to a 22-goal victory to maintain their commanding lead at the top of the Quad-Series table with just one game to come on Thursday against the Silver Ferns in Hamilton.
Browne’s work rate through the midcourt and around the edge of the circle was recognised with the most valuable player (MVP) award