By Aimee Dawson.
The on-fire Australian Diamonds have stretched their winning streak to 18 games, defeating the English netball team by 18 goals in Bendigo.
A crowd of 2494 came to Bendigo Stadium to watch the first game of the two test series, and the Diamonds didn’t disappoint.
Australia lead from the start, swiftly scoring the first three goals of the match.
Fast ball movement by both teams saw Australia thrive under the speed, whilst England were guilty of many turnovers, costing them a good start to the game.
Australian defenders Julie Corletto and Sharni Layton suffocated the English attack, making them hesitant to penetrate the circle.
Quarter-time saw a 12 goal lead to the Diamonds, with England scoring just six goals in the first quarter.
England scored more goals in the second quarter, with Rachel Dunn pulling on the goal attack bib to help their star shooter, Jo Harten.
The margin remained 12 at the half-time break.
The third quarter saw England dominate and they were able to reduce the margin to just six goals at one stage.
The intensity of play could not be maintained by England however, and Australia began to pull away once again.
The last quarter saw changes for Australia, with Bendigo home-town heroes Caitlin Thwaites and Rebecca Bulley stepping onto the court.
These changes did not unsettle the Australian team, with a lead nearing 20 goals.
The final score saw Australia defeat the English 55 – 37.
Despite the disappointing margin for England, they made sure it was an intense and physical match, played at high speed.
Australian Diamonds coach, Lisa Alexander, said it was a “gratifying” win.
“To come out and play with such precision and great intensity off our defensive effort was second to none,” Alexander said.
Alexander also said that they won’t be getting too ahead of themselves before the final test on Wednesday, taking a one game at a time approach.
“[England] will come out with probably a new combination again,” Alexander said.
“They’ve got nothing to lose so they’ll trial some things and we’ll need to be prepared for that.”
Despite losing their captain, Laura Geitz, to a knee injury after the final test against New Zealand, Australia did not miss a beat, with dynamic defender Sharni Layton taking her place in the starting seven.
Layton said that the ability to bring anyone on court and have them make an impact is what is expected of the Diamonds.
“I guess Lisa knows and she showed today that any of us can go out there and that’s the team that we want to portray, that we can mix it up and still know what we have to do,” Layton said.
There is a quick turn-around before the final international test for Australia in 2014.
The last test against England will be played in Canberra on Wednesday.