2019 Netball World Cup: Diamonds dominate over Northern Island despite Aussie edge


Australia have made a flying start to their bid to claim a 12th netball World Cup by devastating a hopeful Northern Ireland 88-24 in Liverpool on Friday night.

With former Adelaide Thunderbirds coach Dan Ryan taking over the opposition team in December, coach Lisa Alexander was concerned the Diamonds would be shaken by an “Australian style of coaching”.

But with a sharp attack and a goal-shooting accuracy of 96 per cent, Australia dominated Northern Ireland in all four quarters.

The Diamonds outclassed Northern Ireland 88-24.

The Diamonds outclassed Northern Ireland 88-24.Credit:Peter Byrne/PA via AP

The result now brings Ryan's hopes of making the top six into question, with Australia expecting a closer match than the sides' 2018 Commonwealth Games 94-26 result.

Calling a win over the world champions “quite unrealistic”, the Northern Ireland coach said he would instead “embrace” the game as an opportunity for his squad to “learn and grow”.

“It’s really just an opportunity to get into the World Cup,” Ryan said. “If we can do some good stuff today, it’s really just a stepping stone.”

Towering shooter Caitlin Bassett made it look easy, setting the pace of the 96 per cent shooting accuracy and pushing her team to a 45-15 half-time lead. It was here that shooter Caitlin Thwaites and Paige Hadley were brought into the game, who alongside Caitlin Bassett are the only three players who remain from the 2015 World Cup.

The combination of the two star shooters made it almost impossible for Northern Ireland to appear a threat.

The game was briefly paused when Northern Ireland captain ‎Caroline O'Hanlon hit the floor hard after a nasty collision with Jamie-Lee Price. It was the last thing Northern Ireland needed, with their skipper escorted off the field midway through the third quarter.

The third quarter was briefly paused after a nasty collision between Northern Ireland skipper Caroline O'Hanlon and Australia's Jamie-Lee Price.

The third quarter was briefly paused after a nasty collision between Northern Ireland skipper Caroline O'Hanlon and Australia's Jamie-Lee Price.Credit:Peter Byrne/PA via AP

Diamonds debutant Sarah Klau was called up to join the starting seven, looking as if she had been in the side for years, with every player brought onto the court in the opening match.

Vice-captain Liz Watson was placed in the centre, away from her usual position of wing attack, leading to a few errors in the first half.

Alexander said she expected the tournament as a whole to be “one of the most keenly contested” ever, with the globalisation of the game outside “New Zealand and Australia” pushing other nations to evolve their game and become real threats to Australia.

“I think there’s been massive changes over the last four years and really to the benefit of the sport as a whole as a global sport,” she said on Thursday. “We know we are the world’s best at this stage according to the rankings and we want to make sure your netball does the speaking for us.”

The Diamonds will be required to back up the performance less than 24 hours later when they face Cup debutants Zimbabwe on Saturday at 5:45pm Sydney time.

“I think we know that there’s a certain style in Africa that probably fairly similar to Malawi,” coach Lisa Alexander said. “They like to keep possession of the ball, there’s a bit of basketball zoning there, because their coaches have basketball background mostly, so we will expect the unexpected.”