Preliminary Round, Pool A, Gold Coast Commonwealth Games
GS Caitlin Thwaites
GA Susan Pettitt
WA Liz Watson
C Kimberley Ravaillion
WD Gabi Simpson
GD Joanna Weston
GK Courtney Bruce
GS Latonia Blackman
GA Nikita Payne
WA Damisha Croney
C Rieah Holder
WD Teresa Howell
GD Reh-Ann Niles-Mapp (c)
GK Shonette Azore-Bruce
Barbados faced the longest wait of any team to start the Games, and they got underway slowly in their first match.
After a rampant first quarter from Australia, the Bajans were able to slow the scoring slightly by playing a better possession game. They contested heavily in the air and on the take of the ball, Australian players hitting the floor several times in the first half.
Three Australian shooters shot with perfect accuracy – Caitlin Thwaites, Susan Pettitt and Stephanie Wood. Two distinct shooting combinations have been used in Australia’s opening two games – Bassett with Wood, Thwaites with Pettitt.
The triangular work around the circle between Madi Robinson, Kim Ravaillion and Thwaites was a feature of the first half, a tactic they often use for their Suncorp Super Netball club, Collingwood. Wood’s blistering drives into the circle in the last quarter encouraged spectacular long passes from the midcourt, while Bassett dominated the high balls.
The Diamonds’ starting seven became no clearer, with all Australians continuing to provide a selection headache for coach Lisa Alexander.
Australia restricted Barbados to an average of 6 goals per quarter. Each defensive pairing combined seamlessly, as was the case against Northern Ireland the previous night. Australia pressed high in defence, picking up many of their intercepts near the transverse line. Laura Geitz pulled in the highest number of intercepts (4), but the whole team contributed to a total of 14 intercepts and 23 deflections.
The team aspects of Australia’s defensive play were impressive. Defenders quickly reset their position when a teammate attempted an intercept. Players were positioned well to gather loose balls created from deflections. Attackers were quick to regain footing to contest a rebound or protect the space of a teammate.
The height difference between the two teams saw Barbados entertain the capacity crowd with several passes through the legs of Australian defenders. While they struggled to find entry to the shooting circle, Barbados shooters Shonica Wharton and Latonia Blackman converted well.
Australia will enjoy a rest day before heading into a tough pool game against South Africa. Barbados will face one of their closest rivals Fiji, a great chance for their first win of the tournament.
Australia 79 defeated Barbados 24
Caitlin Thwaites 24/24 100%
Susan Pettitt 15/15 100%
Caitlin Bassett 23/26 88%
Stephanie Wood 17/17 100%
Australia 79/82 96%
Nikita Payne 4/5 80%
Latonia Blackman 8/10 80%
Shonica Wharton 12/17 71%
Barbados 24/32 75%
Shonica Wharton, Barbados
“The game felt really nice. Yesterday for our day off we went to practice, then we just relax and clear our minds. We will go home and come up with a plan for Fiji.”
Liz Watson, Australia
“Seventy nine goals is huge for us, so that’s awesome. South Africa will be our toughest game so far (on day 4) so we’ll have the rest day tomorrow, do a bit of performance analysis about South Africa and then just a recovery day.”
Who performed well
“I think Steph (Wood) did really well when she came on, she got a few crucial intercepts and that’s something we’ve worked really hard on in the attacking end is to actually get intercepts before it gets down to the defence end.”
Playing against the Caribbean style
“It took a while at the start to get used to. We have spoken about it but I haven’t really played against that style before. The timing’s a bit different, some of the moves are a bit unorthodox from what we’re used to. Once you get the feel you kind of know, but those first few minutes was kind of just feeling what was going on. They’re very patient with the ball, so we have to defend for 3, 4 seconds, and that constant workload needs to be there.”
Caitlin Thwaites, Australia
On South Africa
“We’ve had some really close battles against them recently in the Quad Series, so we’re definitely going to have to bring our A game. We had a little sneaky peak at what they’re bringing to the table in this tournament. They’re a really tough opponent. These last two days have been really good for building those connections for us and hopefully we can go in with good confidence.”
Competition for the starting line-up
“I think that’s the amazing thing about our team, we constantly push each other and we’re just trying to get out there and do our best for the team and play the role we’ve been given for that game. Whatever form tht comes in, whether it’s supporting from the bench or coming on as an impact player or whatever it is, we fully embrace that and we’re a team of 12.”
The atmosphere of the Games
“The village is really amazing! It’s been really nice to be a part of the atmosphere around the place. Now that we’ve experienced the opening ceremony and had that hype and that vibe, we’ve definitely got our competition goggles on. It’s 7 games in 11 days, so were looking at recovering and making sure that we’re conserving our energy and not getting too distracted by too much of what’s going on.
“But it’s a great atmosphere and a great vibe to be a part of. To be able to support all the other athletes that are in there and just run into them at dining hall and create a bit of that camaraderie and that team feeling, it’s been really great.”
April Brandley, Australia
“I’ve been working really hard, and the Commonwealth Games is a massive pinnacle of our sport, so you want to be putting out your best netball. I guess that having the amazing girls around me makes me look pretty good! We’ve got an incredible team, everyone’s doing their job which is complementing each other nicely.”
The different styles from each opponent
“It’s awesome to learn the different styles of different countries, things to put into our toolkit for if we come up against them again. It challenges us in new ways which will help us grow as players. Today the shooters were quite unorthodox with their movement, and their timing was a bit different than what we’re used to.
“For us it’s about keeping to our structures and working on the things we need to work on. We can learn from any opposition – the key for us is being unpredictable in a predictable way, so we each know what we’re doing but can hide it a bit more!”
“We did a lot of our performance analysis ahead of the tournament. We want to feel as prepared as we can before coming in, rather than picking things up as we go. Focusing on us is really important at this stage of the competition.”
Coping with distractions during the Games
“It’s really important to be in the moment and take time away from the sport to clear your mind. Do what you might do at home, catch up with your family. Having distance from the sport gives you that freshness when you come back into it. It’s my first Comm Games, I’m relishing every opportunity and trying to soak it all up!”
Kim Ravaillion, Australia
“After last night’s performance we wanted to just step up again. We knew it was going to be a bit unorthodox, so what we put out there will stand us in good stead against South Africa.”
Her instructions for the game
“Keep the confidence, keep the ball speed, keep the defensive pressure, so we’re building on that each and every game. Hopefully when we get to the gold medal match, which is our goal, we want to be super, super good when we get to that game.”
Her combination with Liz Watson
“Liz (Watson) and I grew up playing together in 19s, and I think our connection is getting stronger and stronger the more we play together. We have a lot of fun out there. We’re the same age, and we have the same jokes that we throw at each other, so it shows the connection we have on court and it’s really building.”
You are getting great access to the players for post match interviews: did they all come in to the press room, or are you able to wander up to them after the game?
The media zone is set up in the tunnel that they have to walk through to leave the court, so we have great access. It’s hard to hear though!