Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Netball: Diamonds dominate South Africa

Erin Burger of South Africa takes a pass under pressure from Stephanie Wood of Australia. Photo / photosport.nz
Erin Burger of South Africa takes a pass under pressure from Stephanie Wood of Australia. Photo / photosport.nz

The world champion Australian Diamonds have opened the Netball Quad Series with a predictably dominant win over South Africa.

The Australians ran out convincing 68-43 winners, extending their lead over the Proteas at every change of ends.

With the world number five South African side not expected to pose a sustained challenge to the world champions, coach Lisa Alexander made a string of positional changes throughout the match, including the introduction of debutants Steph Wood and Kristiana Manu'a in the final quarter.

The match was the first of a blockbuster double-header to open the series with the Silver Ferns set to take on England in the second clash at Auckland's Vector Arena.

Starting with the strongest available line-up, the Diamonds charged out to a 19-10 lead at the first break. That was despite a mid-quarter lull from the Australians, after the Proteas overcame a slow start, in which they trailed 7-2 early on, to claw their way back within two during the mid-way stages of the quarter.

The Diamonds found better consistency during the second spell as wing attack Madison Robinson, who was making her return to international netball after being sidelined in 2015 with a knee injury, found better touch with her feeding into Caitlin Bassett.

Down the other end of the court Diamonds enforcer Sharni Layton kept her side in steady supply of ball, collecting a flurry of intercepts to see the Australians out to a 36-20 halftime lead.

The Proteas, guided by former Australian coach Norma Plummer, produced their best effort in the third quarter as the introduction of Renske Stoltz at goal attack helped open up the attack end, but the Australians still won the period 14-10.

- NZ Herald

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