LIVERPOOL, England — Australia continued their ruthless form at the Vitality Netball World Cup as they opened their Group F campaign with a dominant 91-22 win over Barbados.
Australia Continue Dominant Head-to-Head
The meeting was the fifth time the sides had faced off in World Cup history, with Australia winning the previous four, including in the last tournament in 2015.
The Diamonds were heavy favourites entering the game after they topped Group A in Preliminaries stage one, whilst Barbados finished third in Group B after only picking up one victory.
After a ruthless 99-24 victory over Sri Lanka yesterday, Australia were in a similar mood at the beginning of this contest as they raced into a 3-0 lead, but they were pegged back as the Bajan Gems scored the next two goals.
Despite a promising shooting start for Shonica Wharton and Sheniqua Thomas, Barbados began to struggle to make their shots with Thomas converting just one of her next four goal attempts.
Bassett Leads From The Front
Australia were having no such problems, and Caitlin Bassett in particular had a strong opening quarter as she shot at 100%. That was backed up by Steph Wood who added eight goals as the Diamonds finished the quarter with a 23-5 lead.
Despite Barbados scoring the first goal of the second period, the Diamonds registered the next 21 goals without reply to build on their lead. Bassett and Wood continued to mount up the goals and Wood in particular showcased her shooting range.
Barbados were finding it difficult to progress the ball through the thirds as Australia suffocated them defensively, limiting their space. Wharton was reduced to a spectator for large parts as the Diamonds harassed and harried the Bajan Gems, cutting off the supply to the Barbados goal shooter.
Their goal drought lasted nearly 12 minutes before Wharton scored their second and final goal of the quarter as Australia’s advantage grew to 46-7 at half time.
Bassett was replaced at half time by Caitlin Thwaites, which earned the goal shooter her 50th international cap, and she followed up her impressive shooting performance against Sri Lanka by quickly getting off the mark, making her first two goal attempts in the early exchanges of the quarter.
No Stopping Australia
The third quarter continued with more Australian dominance, but Barbados were creating more scoring opportunities for themselves as Wharton scored her first three goal attempts of the period.
The Bajan Gems goal shooter finished with eight goals in the quarter – in what was her side’s highest-scoring period of the match.
Australia, however, kept the scoreboard ticking and increased their lead. Clinical shooting from both Thwaites and fellow substitute Gretel Tippett saw the pair score all 25 of their goal attempts in the quarter as the Diamonds stretched their lead to 71-15.
In the fourth, Australia continued to showcase their attacking flair as they racked up the goals.
Barbados started the period brightly themselves as Wharton continued to take her shooting opportunities, but Australia were too strong and romped to their fourth consecutive victory of the tournament.
Australia In Good Position
The result puts Australia in a great position to finish in the top two of Group F and advance to the final four of the competition.
Next up for Barbados is Zimbabwe which will give Sandra Bruce-Small’s side an opportunity to pick up their second victory of the tournament.
After earning her 50th international cap Australia’s Caitlin Thwaites said:It’s awesome. I guess you don’t really play for those kind of things but it’s really nice to have been around long enough to have done that.
“I think we are building along the tournament. We’ve had some key learnings from our opponents already and another one today. It seems like it’s a bit of a marathon, so we are building in terms of opponents. It is only going to get harder as the week goes on.
“It is great to be able to test out some of those different combinations at the moment too; seeing the ones that are really gelling and being able to get a lot of time in everybody.”