The atmosphere was electric ahead of the third match of the Netball Quad Series, as thousands of excited fans took their seats at London’s Copper Box Arena to see the world number one take on the world number five.
As they had done in yesterday’s match against the Silver Ferns, the Diamonds began to apply their trademark man-on defensive pressure from the first whistle, their pressure through the centre of the court being rewarded by turnovers from yesterday’s Player of the Match Ash Brazill.
Not to be outdone, Proteas’ GK Phumza Maweni lifted her team with her trademark flying intercepts, picking off a pass outside the circle from former Suncorp Super Netball rival Paige Hadley and raising cheers from Team Bath fans in the arena.
Throughout the court, the Proteas showed their mix of court smarts and speed, with captain Bongiwe Msomi controlling the pace. Vitality Netball Superleague rivals Lefebre Rademan and Ine Mari Venter built on their strong international partnership, Rademan’s pace around the edge of the circle opening space for the cool head of Venter under the post.
Wearing the Diamonds dress for the second time after giving birth in January 2021, Gretel Bueta put in an incredible display of aerial agility, drawing gasps from the crowd with her strong takes under the post and putting up 9 shots from 10 in the first quarter.
With the Diamonds holding a narrow 14-12 lead after the first quarter, the Copper Box Arena crowd were fired up as the whistle went to start the second. Captain Steph Wood started strongly to keep the Diamonds attack firing with impeccable timing on her drives through the court, finding space to link with her teammates.
As the score began to creep up in South Africa’s favour, the Diamonds took inspiration from their trans-Tasman rivals and applied a zone defence through the mid-court. Not put off, Msomi used her vision to break this down and pick out Rademan under the post.
Stacey Marinkovich saw the opportunity to make a switch and to rapturous applause from the crowd, Sunday Aryang took to the court to make her debut and become the first player born in Africa to play for the Origin Diamonds. She settled in quickly with her West Coast Fever teammate Courtney Bruce, taking a rebound and an intercept from the Proteas attack as the Diamonds ended the first half leading 27-23.
The Diamonds started quickly after the halftime break, with another change in the shooting end giving Sophie Garbin her second Diamonds cap and taking to the court at GS. Bueta, moving out to GA, scored an early goal but the Proteas responded well with Reyneke holding up the ball well in the centre of the court.
As the scoreline crept out to a 10-goal lead for the Diamonds, Badenhorst made another change with Nicola Smith gaining her second Proteas cap, replacing Zanele Vimbela at GD. Badenhorst’s decision was quickly rewarded, with the change of defence creating an intercept opportunity for Maweni and forcing Bueta and Garbin to change their movement in the circle. Garbin seized her opportunity on court by shooting 10 goals at 100%, with the score 45-32 to the Diamonds at the end of the third quarter.
The fourth quarter started with changes for both teams as Maloney switches with Price and Izette Griesel moves into the centre position. The Proteas also made alterations to their line up with Tshina Mdau on as wing defence and Khanyisa Chawane adopting the role of goal attack.
Bueta and Wood continued their positive shooting display for the Diamonds, finding space and stretching the Proteas defence but the Proteas also kept up the pressure with fluid ball movement around the edge of the circle between Griesel and Chawane. Despite this, they continued to face difficulty in finding Venter due to the Diamonds defensive display.
With just over six minutes of the final quarter to go both teams looked to the bench again, Bueta being replaced with Cara Koenen in the goal attack position and Msomi returning to the centre.
The Diamonds continued to cause problems for the Proteas with fast build up play, firing long passes into Garbin at the top of the court but the Proteas continued to fight strongly with great visionary passing by Chawane into the circle and Venter finding the net well.
Both teams continued to battle to the final whistle with end-to-end action but the SPAR Proteas couldn't close the gap.
The score at full time ended 60 - 40 to the Australian Diamonds, as they continue their defence of the Netball Quad Series title.
Origin Diamonds Head Coach Stacey Marinkovich made two changes to her match day squad of 12 after yesterday’s win over the SPAR Proteas, with Sunday Aryang and Kate Moloney replacing Jo Weston and Liz Watson. The Diamonds started the match with Gretel Bueta (GS), Stephanie Wood (GA), Hadley Paige (WA), Kate Moloney (C), Ash Brazill (WD), Maddy Turner (GD) and Courtney Bruce (GK).
Dorette Badenhorst also followed up from Saturday’s match with a starting seven of Ine Mari Venter (GS), Lefebre Rademan (GA), Izette Griesel (WA), Bonigwe Msomi (C), Monique Reyneke (WD), Zanele Vimbela (GD) and Phumza Maweni (GK).