Liz Watson claws in a pass. Picture: Getty
Liz Watson claws in a pass. Picture: Getty

Diamonds tune up for big games in best way possible

The Diamonds have come agonisingly close to cracking a century, flogging Sri Lanka by 99-24 to top their Netball World Cup group.

A 75-goal victory gave Australia a perfect three from three wins at the end of the first preliminary phase as Lisa Alexander's defending champions posted the highest single-match goal tally of the tournament thus far.

They now move into a second, six-team preliminary group also featuring New Zealand, Malawi, Barbados, Zimbabwe and Northern Ireland.

The Diamonds will face sterner tests when they play Barbados, likely on Monday, Malawi, likely on Tuesday and New Zealand, likely on Thursday, while their phase-one results against Zimbabwe and Northern Ireland will carry over.

And they'll do so with confidence after shaking off a scrappy 73-37 win 24 hours earlier over Zimbabwe to make light work of Sri Lanka.

The world No.18 side and Asian champions were no match for the top-ranked country, their downfall reflected in their total 41 turnovers.

Kelsey Browne gets in front of the Sri Lanka defence.
Kelsey Browne gets in front of the Sri Lanka defence.

Coach Alexander continued to make full use of her 12-player squad, making five changes from the Zimbabwe game and shuffling the decks, shifting Liz Watson to centre, Kelsey Brown to wing attack and April Brandley to goal defence.

Sarah Klau picked up her second cap at goalkeeper and was all over the world's tallest netballer Tharjini Sivalingam, but the 208-centimetre goal shooter's insurmountable height was not matched by speed and coordination and the 40-year-old was well contained.

That was really the story of the day, as Australia moved fluently and with ease to their attacking circle where Caitlin Thwaites (65-66) and Steph Wood (34-36) finished the job with 98 and 94 per cent accuracy over four quarters respectively.

The pair netted 10 unanswered goals between them in a 27-8 second quarter.

Alexander tweaked her mid-court at halftime substituting Jamie-Lee Price to make way for Paige Hadley at wing defence.

Earlier, England thrashed Samoa 90-24 to top Group D and the Silver Ferns did a similarly brutal job on Singapore, defeating the 26th-ranked minnows 89-21.