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Netball - 05. July 2011.

Diamonds maintain perfect start to World Championships

The Australian Diamonds maintained their perfect start to the 2011 World
Netball Championships with a 75-33 victory over Northern Ireland at the
Singapore Indoor Stadium on Tuesday.

Against the little known opponents, the Diamonds decide to continue
trialling new combinations with relative success as Northern Ireland
exposed the young side still trying to find their feet on day two of the
championships.

"It felt really hard to get our timing right mainly because they're
quite an unorthodox," Diamonds shooter Caitlin Bassett said.

"We expected them to do one thing but didn't so it put us out a little
bit but we worked really hard as a team to get the ball down (the court)
and get our timing going."

Diamonds coach Norma Plummer opting for a youthful starting line up with
captain Natalie von Bertouch and Mo'onia Gerrard rested for the first
half with Kim Green commanding the mid-court and Julie Corletto starting
at wing defence.

With Catherine Cox in the less familiar goal attack bib, Bassett
maintained her flawless start to the World Championships, recording a
perfect 31 goals from 31 attempts in the opening half to bring her
tournament tally to 62 from 62.

In the countries first meeting since 1990, the Diamonds made an ominous
start to their second game in as many days, racing out to a four goal
lead after only a minute and a half of play.

Inaccuracy cost Northern Ireland, 12th ranked country in the world,
early on as captain Norleen Lennon and Kyla Bowman shot at just 56% in
the first quarter while Bassett and Cox were on song early converting at
95%.

Leading 22-8 at quarter time, the Diamonds looked flat in patches during
the second quarter with simple errors and miscommunication, a result of
the new mid-court combinations, costing possession.

However, impressive defending from Laura Geitz and Sharni Layton, along
with Corletto in wing defence, hampering Northern Ireland in attack
while an eight-goal run at the other end of the court helping to ease
the pain - the Diamonds heading into halftime up by 30-goals.

Plummer again turning to the bench at half time with Natalie Medhurst
and Erin Bell assuming the shooting responsibilities, von Bertouch at
centre with Green moving to wing attack, Corletto replacing Layton at
goal defence and Gerrard coming on at wing defence.

Overzealous defending saw the Diamonds guilty of conceding too many
contact penalties in the defensive third, easing the pressure on the
Northern Ireland's shooters as Lennon and Bowman capitalised with eleven
goals in the third quarter.

With the experience of von Bertouch marshalling the mid-court, bringing
a sense of control to the game, the Diamonds looked dangerous with quick
ball movement up the middle to Medhurst and Bell in the attacking circle
with the shooters maintaining Australia's impressive start under the
ring.

With her height and athleticism, Geitz dominated the Diamonds' defensive
third with eight intercepts and 15 rebounds in a player of the match
performance.

After the final whistle, Bassett admitting that Northern Ireland's
performance came as a surprise to the Diamonds.

"In the third and fourth quarter, they played very well and their goal
shooter, Lennon, was accurate for them so I was quite surprised because
I've never played against them before," Bassett said.

"It's definitely hard because you'll find teams, that are lower ranked,
are harder to play against because you're not sure what you're going to
come up against and you're not sure what they're going to do so
communication is very important against these unknown nations."

While the Diamonds recorded their second consecutive comfortable
victory, after beating Samoa 81-23 on Monday, the importance of the
round games can't be underestimated according to the Diamonds.

"Qualifying rounds are a bit different to finals so when we hit the
finals our passing needs to be spot on so during round games, while they
may not be as challenging as we would like, it's really important for us
to work on combinations and get our passing right," Bassett said.   

Australian shooting stats:
Caitlin Bassett                    31/31 (100%)
Catherine Cox                  12/13 (92%)
Erin Bell                                16/19 (84%)
Natalie Medhurst            16/17 (94%)

Diamonds WNC2011 Fixtures & Results:
2011 World Netball Championships, Singapore Indoor Sports Centre,
Singapore
4 July                    Australian Diamonds (81) defeated Samoa (23)
5 July                    Australian Diamonds (75) defeated  Northern
Ireland (33)

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