It was far from convincing, but the Diamonds are a team who knows how to win. What a different path they’ve had to the final compared to last year’s Commonwealth Games. There they cruised through their semi-final against New Zealand and came in as team who weren’t prepared for a close battle. Although Alexander claims this was her starting seven in a ‘horses for courses’ situation against South Africa, there is a thought in the back of my mind that perhaps she wanted to create a situation where the team had to have a close match in the semi to give them a boost for the final. It’s an extremely risky strategy, but Alexander is a coach who appears to revel in risk.
For now, enjoy the second semi-final, rest up tonight and prepare for a late one tomorrow as the Diamonds aim to take home their fourth consecutive Netball World Cup gold medal.
Honestly, I can’t say enough how much I love Erin Delahunty. Look at this match report she can smash out of the park after a game like that! What a star.
England and New Zealand will be up next, with England having to be the clear favourites. However they need to be careful of complacency – although the Ferns are not the same terrfying super power they once were, coach Noeline Taurua is a very smart operator and she will have a plan to take this team down. Whether the Ferns can execute it or not, we shall have to wait and see, but they certainly won’t go quietly.
Ooh, this is fun – reader Abhijato Sensarma has sent us in a beautiful poem to summarise that match!
Again, the Australians almost did not stick the landing
But they still remain one of the last two standing
The opposition they meet in the final will be decided soon
But if one thinks the championship match will be smooth sailing, s/he’s a loon
A couple of thrillers might still be on their way
If Netball wants to cut across the public conscience, it needs to be at its glorious best by Saturday!
Hearing from Lisa Alexander now – she reassures everyone that her starting seven was tactical for this match and not about resting players:
“I think it’s important to tell everyone that those players who started were our starting seven for South Africa. We certainly didn’t take them lightly.”
Watson doesn’t mind who the Diamonds play in the final – she is happy to take on either England or New Zealand.
A well deserved award for her, she had control of the attack end all game.
Reader Kate Cornish rode the whole game with the Diamonds, definitely feeling that heart rate speed Kate!
So what happens now? Was Lisa Alexander hoping to get through that game without some of her big names. Most notably Caitlin Bassett didn’t take the court at all in the semi-final. I’m not sure I can think of any time the Australian captain hasn’t taken any part in a world cup semi-final.
Was she being rested or was Alexander looking for something different from her shooting circle? Neither goal attack looked especially convincing either – Tippett provided a lot of athleticism, but would only take the close shots, meaning she often crowded Thwaites’ space. Wood’s early miss really seemed to play havoc with her confidence and she didn’t open up the game the way it seemed she might.
Well that game didn’t seem like it would be a nailbiter, but it certainly turned out that way. In the end it was the experience of the Diamonds in pressure situations that got them the win. A lot of question marks over their ability to back it up in the final against even tougher opposition. Lots of deep breaths to be taken before tomorrow.
Q4 14 mins: Australia 55-52 SA Almost a miss from Thwaites but it’s pulled back for obstruction. The Diamonds play the ball around conservatively, grinding out for the win.
Q4 13 mins: Australia 53-50 SA It takes some time, but the Diamonds score again and get the lead out to four again. South Africa answer quickly however – they need a turnover.
Q4 12 mins: Australia 52-49 SA If this match finishes in a draw, the game will go into extra time, as it’s a sudden death match. Jo Weston is not keen to play a second longer than she has to clearly, pulling in an intercept to take the Diamonds’ lead out.
Q4 10 mins: Australia 50-49 SA A few key intercepts from the Diamonds through Watson and Weston, bring a bit more confidence to the Australians, but South Africa answer with some turnovers of their own and close the lead back down.
Q4 9 mins: Australia 50-46 SA Still no misses from Thwaites who has been a rock under the post. Wood however looks nervous after her first missed shot. Wood of course plays with Maweni and Pretorius at the Sunshine Coast Lightning and they will know how to get in her head.
Q4 7 mins: Australia 47-45 SA It’s amazing how confidence breeds confidence. The closer the margin becomes, the better the Proteas play. Every big play from one of their players lifts them to a higher level and their full court defence is outstanding. The Diamonds have panic in their eyes, they need to settle and regain their earlier confidence.
Q4 5 mins: Australia 45-43 SA Still plenty of love in stadium for the Proteas, the English fans clearly keen to see Australia miss their first ever world cup final. Huge cheers when Hadley struggles to find the shooters and gets called for held ball.
Q4 3 mins: Australia 44-41 SA Heads are high among the South Africans – they are obviously happy with their efforts against the world number 1. Wood takes a long shot for the Diamonds and it doesn’t pay off, the Proteas get a rebound. Unfortunately for them, they can’t convert.
Q4 1 min: Australia 43-40 SA Changes have been made – Bruce is indeed on at GK, Watson back at C, with Hadley moving to WA and Wood on at GA. Meanwhile Griesel has come on at WA for the Proteas.
Folks, we have a game on our hands! This break has come at good time for the Diamonds, they need to settle and not let panic come into their game. Thwaites looked calm slotting the penalty after the whistle, but things will no doubt heat up as the end draws nearer. I’ll predict that Lisa Alexander will bring Bruce on at GK and Watson back on in C.
Q3 14 mins: Australia 41-38 SA PRETORIUS!!!! She has worked her way into this match and she will not leave anything out there.
Q3 12 mins: Australia 41-35 SA The lead has eroded for the Diamonds and the Proteas are looking more confident as they draw closer. Holtzhausen is looking much more involved in the game and that can only be a good thing for the team. Some Pretorius magic can’t be converted though, which may put the brakes on.
Q3 9 mins: Australia 39-33 SA The Proteas are starting to rediscover their flow in attack that they had earlier in this game, but they will need to pull in considerably more turnovers to push the Diamonds to the end of this game.
Q3 7 mins: Australia 37-30 SA The Diamonds are struggling a little to hit circle edge, which is the strongest feeding position. However the Proteas are letting them off the hook a little with penalties given away to allow them an easy passage after a few pressure passes.
Q3 5 mins: Australia 35-28 SA Holtzhausen plays herself into the game with a mid-range shot – one of very few that have been taken in this game. However a turnover on their centre pass stops them from scoring two in a row.
Q3 3 mins: Australia 34-26 SA Australia taking time to adjust to the change to their attacking end, not as smooth a path to the post. They are still scoring, but it’s taking them longer than it did at the end of the second quarter.
Q3 1 min: Australia 32-24 SA Changes have been made – the Diamonds decided to sub their stats leader Liz Watson for Kelsey Browne. Meanwhile for the Proteas, Chawane comes on at WD.
Lots of unique ways people are catching this game tonight, include this from Collingwood Magpies’ Ash Brazill. You have to think that’s poor scheduling from her wife’s netball club though!
Having a look at the stats, Liz Watson is doing a power of work at WA. With 13 centre pass receives, 19 feeds and 16 goal assists, she is the dominant force in that attack end. By contrast Paige Hadley has only seven goal assists and eight feeds.
The defence line have been quiet stats-wise, with Jo Weston with just one intercept and one gain and Sarah Klau yet to pull in any intercepts or gains. The defence has been a lot more focussed on strong hands over down the court and grinding down their opponents, however I’m sure Lisa Alexander will be hoping for more turnover ball from her defenders in the second half.
This is the Diamonds’ game to lose now. They are much more settled, finding space easily in the circle. While they still aren’t confident to take long shots, it’s not affecting them at the moment, as the shooter to shooter play is sharp enough to get the ball through. However if they find themselves up against the Roses tomorrow, they may need to be able to mix it up in the circle and have a Plan B.
Q2 13 mins: Australia 28-21 SA There is a hesitancy to take longer range shots from both Diamonds shooters at the moment. It puts a lot of pressure on the feeders to get the ball close to the post.
Q2 10 mins: Australia 26-19 SA Potgieter is being pushed hard by her own players who aren’t giving her any easy feeds. To her credit, she is pulling them in, but will make it easier for herself if she stays on her hold a millisecond longer.
Q2 8 mins: Australia 23-17 SA The Diamonds are improving as this game goes on. The attack is looking much more fluent and their full court defence is looking tougher and more confident. They are still not playing the level they would be aiming for, but will be happy with the improvement.
Q2 6 mins: Australia 20-15 SA Thwaites’ baulks don’t seem to be drawing the same umpire attention – no held balls called on her as yet. Let’s keep an eye on it when the Diamonds’ are back down the other end of the court.
Q2 4 mins: Australia 17-14 SA The Proteas appear to struggle with a static start – setting up after a penalty rather than coming up court with speed. We might see the Diamonds try to exploit that by forcing more penalties and making the Proteas reset more often.
Q2 2 mins: Australia 17-12 SA Short three seconds from the umpires in this game – plenty of held balls being called on the Proteas’ shooters. And the first lift of the game with Maweni getting Pretorius up over Tippett’s shot, but to no avail.
Q2 1 min: Australia 15-10 SA No changes to either side as predicted. Thwaites still not looking confident on the shot, she passes off to Tippett instead of taking the first shot.
While it’s a lead for the Diamonds, it doesn’t look like a convincing start from the reigning world champions. Thwaites does tend to grow into a game though, as we have seen with the Melbourne Vixens, so it will be interesting to see if Alexander is prepared to let this line up work their way into the game. I wouldn’t expect changes from either team at this stage.
Q1 14 mins: Australia 12-10 SA Lots of end to end play at the moment – neither team are completely confident in getting the ball into their attacking end and defensive pressure is immense.
Q1 12 mins: Australia 10-8 SA The Diamonds are having no trouble getting turnover ball but they will need to step up their conversion rate from turnovers. Cath Cox in commentary wants Thwaites to turn and shoot more often rather than passing out.
Q1 10 mins: Australia 7-7 SA Miscommunication has been the theme of the quarter for the Diamonds. Has this line had enough time to gel to get a semi-final win?
Q1 9 mins: Australia 6-6 SA Very scrappy play from the Diamonds somehow ends up with the ball in Thwaites’ hands under the post to equalise. They look to go one up, but access to the circle is hard to find at the moment.
Q1 7 mins: Australia 5-6 SA More fluidity in ball movement for the Proteas now, while the Diamonds still struggle to penetrate the defence.
Q1 6 mins: Australia 4-5 SA The Proteas defence unit is looking in much sharper form than they did against the Roses. However they still don’t look fluent in attack – it’s a very stop/start progression down court.
Q1 3 mins: Australia 1-2 SA A nervous start from both teams, not much smooth movement down court. It’s a very defensive game so far.
1 min: Australia 0-1 SA An early win for the Proteas with Thwaites unable to handle a high ball on its first trip down their attacking end. But they can’t capitalise.
The teams are running out on court now, the Diamonds looking relaxed and confident. Erin has noted that now the game is about to begin, the crowd is now getting behind the Proteas! Interesting times, let’s go!
Big incentive for the Proteas with 1,000,000 ZAR on offer for each player if they come away with the gold medal. So they will want to give themselves every chance to do that by winning tonight and reaching their first world cup final since 1995.
Hearing from Norma Plummer now.
“They don’t look as nervous as I thought they might. I think they’ll just come out and give it a really good go.”
She also reassures us that Bongiwe Msomi is 100% fit after her ankle injury against the Roses, which is great to hear.
I’m pretty happy with this broadcast line up, which includes my two favourite netballers of all time – Nat Medhurst and Sharelle McMahon. They will provide some excellent insights.
Medhurst feels that South Africa may take offence at Alexander completely changing up her line up from what she clearly considered her top 7 in the Ferns game, so it will be interested to see if the Proteas come out fired up.
Alvin and the Chipmunks is finally over so it appears we will get some TV coverage started soon. I’m very glad this important eight year old movie got to run its course before the small matter of a World Cup semi final gets to be covered.
Some thoughts from Erin inside the stadium:
“Awesome to see so many Diamonds fans in the house. I swear I see a few red shirts cheering for Diamonds as they come out too. I reckon the Poms want an Eng v Aus final.”
Interesting as they seemed to be on the Diamonds’ side against the Ferns too. If the Diamonds do progress tonight I hope they’ve enjoyed this crowd support while it lasted though, because they will turn on them big time tomorrow!
Some interesting thoughts on social media regarding Lisa Alexander’s starting line. Quite a few people thinking it’s giving the benchies a run because they expect to win and win easily. Good summary of what it could be from former Roses player Pamela Cookey.
And of course after this game we have the other semi final – between England and New Zealand. England cruised to victory against SA and will be going in pretty confidently. Gone are the days when the Ferns could easily account for the Roses. Although the English team don’t play against many of the Ferns these day, a fair few of this crop of Roses played in the ANZ Championship days and the players will all be pretty familiar with each other.
We’re still about 30 mins away from the first centre pass, so now is a good time to catch up on the news from the past few days. Emma John was all over the England v South Africa game a couple of days ago, so check it out to get up to speed if you couldn’t quite wake up at 5am to watch it.
No surprises here, this has looked like their strongest line up, though I’ll be looking for for a GA change if Holtzhausen struggles again.
GS Lenize Potgieter
GA Maryka Holtzhausen
WA Bongiwe Msomi
C Erin Burger
WD Shadine van der Merwe
GD Karla Pretorius
GK Phumza Maweni
This is a very different line up that started against NZ. I’m not sure if Lisa Alexander is hoping for something different or is perhaps taking this match up a little lightly?
GS Caitlin Thwaites
GA Gretel Tippett
WA Liz Watson
C Paige Hadley
WD Jamie-Lee Price
GD Jo Weston
GK Sarah Klau
The Diamonds would appear to be in the box seat for this one – despite a scrappy second half against New Zealand where they only came away with the win by one goal – they have looked the more in form of the two teams.
South Africa had a strong start to the World Cup but perhaps played their final against Jamaica, when they beat the world number two to qualify for the semi finals. They looked less than convincing against England. Maryka Holtzhausen appeared out of her depth in goal attack, while the usually unstoppable defence combination could not contain who our intrepid reporter in Liverpool Erin Delahunty has dubbed ‘H2’ – Jo Harten and Helen Housby. However a Norma Plummer-coached team is not to be underestimated and ‘The Plum’ will be very keen to take down the Diamonds, so she’ll have a few tricks up her sleeve.
So much excitement, so little time! So let’s get into it.