Netball Quad Series: England at war as Australia dominate – 7 things we learnt


Diamonds coach Stacey Marinkovic will give an early update on her World Cup plans when she names Australia’s squad for the Four Series final against New Zealand on Thursday morning.

Australia are in a crucial position in Cape Town after winning their tournament opener against England and the Kiwis and use Wednesday morning’s (AEDT) final round clash with South Africa to test combinations.

The Diamonds defeated the Proteas 65-48 with captain Liz Watson and vice-captain Steven Wood rested, while Sunshine Coast Lightning defender Tara Hinchliffe made her debut playing half a game in goal defence.

Hinchliffe is likely to be named again for the finals, with the Diamonds fielding just four defenders on the tour, although he was selected as an injury replacement for recent debutant and Commonwealth Games traveling reserve Ruby Bakewell-Doran and regular Diamonds regular Joe Weston ahead of Maddy. Turner suggests the coaching staff is looking to the future outside of the established starting four linebackers.

The batting end is also relatively settled, with young ball Sophie Dwyer winning the tour for the first time against South Africa by half a game, although she may miss the final with Wood’s return to the rotation.

As always, it’s the incredibly deep midcourt where the questions remain.

Watson will return at wing attack, while Paige Hadley will be the preferred choice to start at centre.

But the question remains which of Ash Brazill, Kate Moloney and Jamie-Lee Price will join them.

He gave up the domestic Test window at the end of last year and took time off from the opening Quad Series to spend time with his family after the Brazil Commonwealth Games.

But he was immediately back to his best against the Silver Ferns and is likely to get a nod at wing-back.

This will set up a shootout between Moloney and Price, as they did in the majors last year.

Moloney won last year’s Quad Series final in England with Price winning the final midfield position in the matchday squad, the first for Price for the Commonwealth Games.

Add in the likes of recent debutants Maddy Proud and Amy Parmenter, as well as former Diamonds Kim Ravaillion and Kelsey Browne, who continue to pressure teammates, and Marinkovic has a group that is constantly pushing each other to greater heights.

It is the culture of competition that the Diamonds believe is responsible for their recent success.

“I think there’s real competition in our environment,” Marinkovic said.

“They push each other in everything they do.

“We have all players playing in the Suncorp Super Netball league and club franchises, so they are exposed to trials throughout the pre-season. continues to raise its level.

“When we bring them together, we take them to a new level. Players know they have to meet certain standards to perform.

“There’s a real commitment that they’re going to do their job when they’re not together so that when we get together we can train at a level that drives what the intensity of the game looks like so there’s no surprises when we get on the court. .”

Diamonds likely line-up for final: Cara Koenen, Steph Wood, Liz Watson (captain), Paige Hadley, Ash Brazill, Sunday Aryang, Courtney Bruce. Subs: Kiera Austin, Sophie Garbin, Jamie-Lee Price, Sarah Clau, Tara Hinchliffe.

While Australia looked like the team to beat in 2023, the tournament has raised many questions as all four nations begin the countdown to the World Cup in South Africa this July.

1. The main influence in Diamonds attack is wood

Goal attack Steph Wood is the barometer for Australia. When he is engaged, active and hitting well, the team starts scoring.

In the pool match against New Zealand, it was Wood’s dominant third term as he used his speed to expose defender Kelly Jury to kick seven goals en route to a two-point victory.

Australia trailed the Silver Ferns by eight wickets before Wood found a way around the 20cm Jury.

The Diamonds will not want to repeat their slow start in the finals.

2. Who is Australia’s best shooter?

Despite not playing against the Silver Ferns, goalscorer Sophie Garbin proved to be outstanding through the series.

He should get the start over Cara Coenan at goal-kicker after a superb performance against South Africa with 32 goals from 36 attempts in three quarters.

Garbin has made an impact every time he has stepped on the court, but Coenan and the goal attack may be overlooked due to the strong combination of Stephen Wood playing alongside Sunshine Coast in the Super Netball Series.

Garbin and Wood also work well together and could be a lethal combination with more court time together as Australia look for Gretel Bueta’s replacement ahead of the World Cup.

3. Referees aren’t afraid to make big calls.

South African goalkeeper Phumza Maveni’s red card in the final minutes of the draw with England sent a message to all defenders that referees are not afraid to call foul play at crucial moments.

Maweni was initially cautioned for contact in the third quarter with the final caution early in the final quarter.

Referee Angela Armstrong-Lush decided to send Maweni off after another contact.

In England’s game against New Zealand, normally clean defender Geva Mentor was also cautioned in the first round.

The Diamonds are known for their tight one-on-one defensive style, with the team receiving more penalties for contact and obstruction than their opponents in their first two matches.

With referees confident enough to send off players, the Diamonds will have to be cautious coming into the final.

4. All is not Roses in the England camp

The last Quad Series was England’s biggest threat to Diamond.

The series remains winless and they will play South Africa for a chance at third place.

Roses boss Jess Thirlby’s future is in doubt with the World Cup later this year.

Thirlby made mixed choices, including sending off superstar goalkeeper Give Mentor with seven minutes left in the New Zealand match.

There are whispers that the squad is divided, with some backing the coach and others calling for a change ahead of the World Cup.

The sight of Helen Housby’s deathly glare as the team gathered after a game was seen by many as a sign that all was not well in the Roses camp.

5. Wow. A march of shame for Diamonds

After everyone was caught off guard at the opening when the full version of Advance Australia Fair was heard, the Diamonds better check with the organizers which version of the national anthem they intend to play before each international competition.

After hearing the Diamonds’ first verse, even the commentators started their pre-match discussions as the players and staff walked away from the line-up to prepare for the match against England.

Then young South African singer Gugulethu Ndzendze followed with the second verse.

This caused players to return to their lineups and commentators to think of awkward jokes when the national anthem ended after the second verse.

6. The depth of diamonds looks strong

With superstars Joe Weston and Gretel Bueta out for Australia in the Quad series, it was important for the Diamonds to have a back-up plan.

The late inclusion of Tara Hinchcliffe and defensive changes ending with Courtney Bruce in goal defense made for a smooth transition for the Diamonds.

The selection of Sophie Garby over Donnell Wallam for this series proved to be a useful choice for Marinkovic. With effective exchange through the Garbin series.

7. The third quarter is crucial

They don’t call the Championship quarterback for nothing – as the Diamonds have shown this series.

In Australia’s first game against England, they fell behind early, but a 17-9 third period set the stage for a 61-55 victory.

Against New Zealand, the Diamonds trailed by one goal at halftime, but a 16-14 third quarter saw them on their way to a two-goal victory.

Their 16-10 third quarter in the Diamonds final against South Africa was also their strongest.

Whatever head coach Stacey Marinkovich says at halftime, it works.

Originally published as Netball Quad Series: England at war as Australia dominate – 7 things we learnt

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