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Diamonds claim opening World Cup win

  • Diamonds claim opening World Cup win

Australia have launched their Netball World Cup defence with a comfortable 73-32 victory over Trinidad and Tobago in Sydney.

The Diamonds were scratchy at the outset of Friday's game as they settled into new combinations and grappled with the 10th-ranked Calypso Girls' physicality.

But the hosts soon found their rhythm, finishing strongly to equal an Australian team's third-longest streak of 20 straight victories.

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Debutant Kim Ravaillion was reliable at centre, running a firing midcourt from which Kim Green provided the bullet feeds to Caitlin Bassett and returning goal attack Erin Bell.

Bell was jittery on her feet in her first international appearance since 2013 but grew into her game, slotting some impressive mid-range shots for a first-half showing of 18 goals from 19 attempts before returning for a fourth-quarter spell as wing attack.

Captain Laura Geitz started at goal keeper and went straight on the hunt for Rhonda John-Davis' relentless long balls.

Down the other end, Caitlin Bassett performed despite copping the wrath of feisty Trinidad and Tobago goal keeper Daystar Swift, who made a game-high eight deflections.

Coach Lisa Alexander cleaned out her whole bench at the main break, bringing Caitlin Thwaites on at goal shooter, two-Test bolter selection Paige Hadley at wing attack and experienced campaigner Natalie Medhurst in her preferred goal attack position.

She also shifted Rebecca Bulley in at wing defence to relieve fellow debutant Renae Hallinan, who was until Friday the most-capped player of all time (57 Tests) not to have played in a world titles.

Trinidad and Tobago's changes in attack made immediate impact, with 191cm shooter Afeisha Noel forcing multiple contacts and troubling Julie Corletto and Geitz with fancy footwork.

It was helped by the fresh legs of Sharni Layton, who came flying audaciously back onto the court to replace Geitz at keeper following her early spell in goal defence.

The visitors' passing frequency meant they won in the possession stakes and though it succeeded in tiring out Australia's defence, the girls from the Caribbean couldn't convert their advantage into points.

After the Silver Ferns took a comprehensive 73-28 win over Barbados, Sunday's heavyweight showdown is likely to determine the winner of Pool A.

Alexander said her mission to test out all possible combinations had been accomplished.

"Bit of a scratchy start but what was really pleasing was that it didn't matter which combination we put out there, we actually discovered something new," she said.

"We don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves but we have to make sure we use all of our bench at this stage and same tomorrow so we're in good shape for Sunday (against New Zealand)."

Alexander particularly praised Hadley's second-half performance at wing attack and centre.

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