With captain Sharelle McMahon returning to the team after being rested for the World Netball Series, the Australian Diamonds took the court in Bath meaning business. But it was the English players that got the jump thanks to some tight defensive work from Sonia Mkoloma and Geva Mentor. England took a three goal break into quarter time, leading 15-12.
A more focused Diamonds outfit took the court in the second quarter with the Australians crawling their way back into the game with pressure all over the court. The English shooters Louisa Brownfield and Pamela Cookey’s accurate shooting kept England in touch while Renae Hallinan and Mo’onia Gerrard combined well, putting pressure on every English pass. With vice-captain Natalie von Bertouch and McMahon leading from the front the Diamonds pulled away to a two goal lead at half-time, 27-25.
In the third quarter Rebecca Bulley entered the game at goal defence with Gerrard being rested in her first match back from injury. The Diamonds kept the momentum they built in the second quarter to move seven goals ahead. Mkoloma and McMahon’s battle in the circle became more and more physical with Mkoloma having to be replaced due to injury after several tangles and collisions. Kimberlee Green was tireless through the mid-court while McMahon and Susan Pratley dominated the circle giving the Diamonds a four goal break, leading 41-37 going into the final change.
For the final quarter Pratley moved out to goal attack moving McMahon into goal shooter. Hallinan and Bulley continued to trouble the English attacking end pulling in intercepts around the English circle. Despite some close checking from England von Bertouch and Green continued to drive strongly down the middle feeding the ball in well to Pratley and McMahon.
With Diamonds firing all over the court, the Australians took control of the final 15 minutes running out 11-goal victors, 55-44 with McMahon named player of the match.
Diamonds coach Norma Plummer was impressed by her side’s tenacity despite a long tiring international season.
“It certainly was nice to come away with a win coming off the Test matches in New Zealand and Australia and then the World Netball Series. It was a bit of a tired game from both teams really,” Plummer said.
“Neither team looked really fresh but we got the win, the girls worked extremely hard and their defensive game was fantastic especially in the second half.”
For captain and player of the match Sharelle McMahon, the way her team went about the win was the most encouraging part of the 11-goal victory.
“We held that lead through the third-quarter and put our foot down again in the final quarter which for us is really nice because often we get a lead and don’t really go on with it. So it was really good that we got in front and in the last quarter took it away from them,” McMahon said.
“It was great to get back on court, in the World Netball Series Mo’onia and I would warm up with the team then go back into the stands to watch so it was definitely good to be back in with the group and out on court again.”
“I thought by the end of that match we had a really nice flow and a good understanding between the players on court, so hopefully we can build on that against Jamaica.”
The Diamonds now fly to Jamaica to take on the Sunshine Girls in Kingston.
GS - Susan Pratley
GA - Sharelle McMahon (Captain)
WA - Kimberlee Green
C - Natalie von Bertouch (Vice Captain)
WD - Renae Hallinan
GD - Mo`onia Gerrard
GK - Bianca Chatfield
England starting positions:
GS - Louisa Brownfield
GA - Pamela Cookey
WA -Tamsin Greenway
C - Karen Atkinson
WD - Jade Clarke
GD - Sonia Mkoloma
GK -Geva Mentor
Australian Diamonds shooting statistics
Susan Pratley 26/32 @ 84%
Sharelle McMahon 29/35 @ 80%
Quarter by quarter scores:
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