IMAGE|| MICHAEL WILLSON
The Australian Diamonds have booked themselves a semi-final spot in an iconic Trans-Tasman battle tomorrow evening at Coomera Indoor Sports Centre at 5.02pm.
It will be the first time Australia and New Zealand, the world’s No.1 and 2 teams, have not met in the gold medal match since netball was introduced to the Commonwealth Games at Kuala Lumpur in 1998.
Despite losing to both England and Malawi, Diamonds mid courter Liz Watson said she expects the Silver Ferns to come out firing.
“It has always been that Australian New Zealand rivalry – it’s still there no matter what game, if it’s the gold medal match or the finals… it’s going to be tough,” Watson said.
“It doesn’t matter who we’re playing, we’re going to just push on and give a great game.”
Let’s take a look back at how the Diamonds’ undefeated pool matches unfolded…
The Australian’s opened their Commonwealth Games campaign with a huge victory over Northern Island, 94 -26.
Returning to international netball for the first time since October 2015, Queenslander Laura Geitz was named in the starting seven as goal keeper and made an immediate impact.
Geitz had not played for Australia since a Constellation Cup cameo and Diamonds Coach Lisa Alexander said the goalkeeper continues to deliver vital experience to the national squad.
“Laura … it’s just great to have her back. She gives everyone around her confidence when she is out there. Her experience is invaluable,’’ Alexander said.
In game two, the Diamonds continued their dominant form, with a 55-goal victory over Barbados.
Three shooters did not miss a goal, with the team registering 96% accuracy overall. Goal shooter Caitlin Thwaites shot at 100% for the second game in a row.
All twelve players took to court once again, with pinpoint accuracy and slick defence.
Game three against South Africa brought plenty of hype, but the Diamonds shone through with a hard-fought 20-goal victory to notch up their third consecutive win.
Though the score line did not reflect it, the South Africans, coached by former Australian coach Norma Plummer, kept the Diamonds under pressure with a relentless defence.
Both Caitlin Thwaites and Susan Pettitt did not miss a goal, for the third time in a row.
The Australians with plenty more still left in the tank registered a 108-28 win over Fiji in their fourth match of the preliminary rounds, clocking up a century for the fifth time in Australian international netball history.
The last time Australia had scored 100 points or more against any opposition was in their Commonwealth Games clash against India in 2010.
The Diamonds were exceptional in defence, not registering a single penalty in the opening quarter.
Game five against Jamaica was always going to be Australia’s biggest test of the pool matches and they made a statement with their best performance of the tournament, booking a semi-final berth against New Zealand tomorrow night.
In what was a physical encounter, the Diamonds shined under pressure with composure through a full-court defence and multiple options through attack.
The team continued their incredible accuracy, shooting at a combined 96% conversion under the post.
Given that New Zealand have been defeated by Jamaica twice this year and lost to Malawi in the pool rounds, it will take a mighty effort to overcome the undefeated Aussies at the Coomera Indoor Sports Club at 5.02pm tomorrow.
It is followed two hours later by the semi-final between England and Jamaica, with the gold medal match and the play off for bronze taking place on Sunday.