30/05/2024

Australian Diamonds Sarah Klau and Sunday Aryang combined for a solid partnership in the defensive circle. (Picture: Australian Diamonds/Twitter)

In a result that was expected, the Australian Diamonds had a big win against the Scottish Thistles in the second game of their Commonwealth Games campaign.

A little known playing partnership between a couple of Queensland shooters and a new look defensive duo were key to the Diamonds’ victory.

The 83-30 victory against Scotland marks the second consecutive win for the Diamonds, after their 95-18 win against Barbados. The attacking end had more trouble against a more steadfast defence put up by the Thistles, which caused Diamonds head coach Stacey Marinkovich to test her squad.

She upped the 10 changes from the last match to 12 changes, which also saw four changes to the starting seven and the return of Paige Hadley. The other changes happened at the attacking and defensive circles, both bearing fruit for the Australians.

Kiera Austin and Gretel Bueta started in the attacking circle but they were less cohesive than the other pairings available. Austin scored 10/13 and Bueta had 33/34, with Bueta trying to assist too much outside of the cricle to do her work to get to goal. The two settled for a reasonable second quarter, although after half time Austin was replaced by Cara Koenen.

Koenen and Bueta were a very cohesive and surprising pairing with both coming from Queensland’s two clubs, the Firebirds (Bueta) and the Lightning (Koenen). The move to bring Koenen on at goal shooter paid dividends with Bueta playing more freely.

Marinkovich will now have to consider what impact this combination could have in the future and how having this extra connection will only help them by having more variations that work on court.

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The new look defensive pair was even more unexpected, however Marinkovich’s willingness to test new combinations this early in the competition will be worth it moving forward.

Starting in the defensive circle for the Diamonds were Sarah Klau in goal keeper and Sunday Aryang in goal defence. This combination worked well in the circle with Aryang showcasing her pace, which allowed Klau to fly at balls for intercepts and gains. They clicked from the beginning with the connection with each other as organic as it was surprising.

This circle was changed in the third quarter when Fever teammate Courtney Bruce joined Aryang. The domestic partnership that was involved in the SSN 2022 Premiership run continues to make a seamless transition onto the international stage with Aryang growing in stature with every game alongside Bruce.

The Diamonds will be playing the South African Proteas in the next group game on Monday night (Australian time).

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