* Caitlin Thwaites scores 500^th international goal
* Gretel Tippett records personal best shooting performance
* Caitlyn Nevins makes her first appearance in starting seven
A personal best performance by goal attack Gretel Tippett and full-team defensive effort has seen the Australian Diamonds record their second Netball Quad Series win, 62 – 46 over the South Africa SPAR Proteas.
The Diamonds started the Test with two changes to their previous starting line-up, with Caitlyn Nevins earning her first start, in addition to Gretel Tippett.
Within the first minute of the game, Caitlin Thwaites scored her 500^th international goal for Australia. Five unanswered goals were scored by the Diamonds before the Proteas registered their first goal just prior to the four minute mark. The Diamonds led 17 – 9 into quarter time.
The game was physical from the beginning, both sides showing strength and drive for the ball. “We knew that South Africa were going to come out strong, you can never underestimate a South African team,” explained midcourter Gabi Simpson.
“We were definitely prepared to really give it a good crack; we were expecting good first ball contest and that is exactly what we got. They played a really good game and we were able to withstand that,” she said.
Gretel Tippett shot seven goals in the opening quarter, improving on her previous best of six goals in a quarter. She blitzed her personal best of nine goals in a game, shooting 20 goals in three quarters, before being substituted for Susan Pettitt in the final term.
Coach Lisa Alexander was pleased with Tippett’s performance and her combination with Thwaites. “She understands the different style of play with Caitlin Thwaites back at shooter, or if we were to have Susan back there, it is more of a moving circle,” Alexander said.
“It’s a matter of getting her used to re-offers and she’s been working on that really well at training. I thought it was very strong performance from her tonight. It built on what she did last year in England with Thwaites as well. They had some really nice passages of play,” said Alexander.
The Proteas made three changes into the second term, with Lindie Lombard into goal attack, Precious Mthembu to wing defence and Zanele Vimbela into goal defence. Momentum swung the way of the Proteas for some time due to the home side’s frenetic style of play, to the disappointment of Lisa Alexander.
“We allowed their frenetic play to infect us and affect our composure at times,” she said. “Our decision making went out the window - that was a little bit disappointing but it certainly points towards a few things that we need to fix for the next Test against England,” Alexander said.
“Too many times we were looking down at one option and putting pressure on that instead of using our swings and our double plays and our ball movement.” Though a closer contested quarter, Australia led by 11 goals at half time, 31 – 20.
Neither side made any changes into the third term, with the Diamonds tightening up their attacking play, in addition to their full-court defence.
“We’ve been working really hard on our full court defence, right from goal shooter down to goal keeper and having seven people active in our defensive play at all times,” said Simpson. “We were able to force a lot of turnovers that way tonight.”
The Diamonds were able to push out their lead to 15 goals, going into the final break 45 – 30.
Susan Pettitt was substituted on at goal attack in the final quarter, with Paige Hadley into wing attack. The changes were seamless, with the Diamonds equaling their opening quarter efforts, shooting 17 goals.
AUSTRALIAN DIAMONDS (62) defeated SOUTH AFRICA SPAR PROTEAS (46)
Australia shooting statistics
Susan Pettitt 7/7 (100%)
Caitlin Thwaites 35/37 (95%)
Gretet Tippett 20/25 (80%)
South Africa shooting statistics
Lenzie Potgieter 34/39 (87%)
Vanes-Mari du Toit 3/4 (75%)
Lindie Lombard 9/13 (69%)
Australia starting seven - GS: Caitlin Thwaites, GA: Gretel Tippett, WA: Caitln Nevins C: Kim Ravaillion, WD: Gabi Simpson, GD: April Brandley, GK: Sharni Layton
South Africa starting seven – GS: Lenize Potgieter, GA: Vanes-Mari du Toit, WA: Bongiwe Msomi, C: Erin Burger, WD: Juline Rossouw, GD: Karla Mostert, GK: Phuma Maweni
Match MVP: April Brandley (Australia)