20/04/2024

Courtney Bruce (left) was superb in defence along with debutant Sunday Aryang in the Diamonds victory over the Proteas. (Photo: Australian Diamonds/Twitter)

The old defensive guard of Ash Brazill and Courtney Bruce put together yet another terrific performance against the Proteas.

The defensive old guard of Ash Brazill and Courtney Bruce put together yet another terrific performance against the Proteas.

The Australian Diamonds locked in their spot in the Quad Series final as they downed the Spar Proteas in a comfortable, albeit at times nervy, 20 goal victory (60-40).

Whilst the Australian attack continued their good start to the series, it was Brazill and Bruce who were a cut above in their second victory in as many days.

Both provided energy and aggression, constantly forcing South Africa into turnovers and kickstarting attacks for the Diamonds.

Bruce ended up with the Player of the Match award. She finished the game with two rebounds, two deflections and an interception whilst also working hard and giving South Africa’s shooters more than a few problems.

Bruce said post match she felt as though she got better and better the deeper the match went

“With a team like South Africa you have to build into a game, it’s not gonna be won in the first quarter. I think that’s where a lot of our game started to develop,” she said.

Brazill continued her strong start to the series and could’ve had a second consecutive player of the match award, finishing with three deflections and two interceptions.

During the match, there was a special moment for all of Australian netball. Young West Coast Fever goal defence Sunday Aryang came on to the court, earning her first cap and becoming the first African born Diamond.

Aryang put up a good shift in the two and a half quarters she played, picking up two deflections, one interception and two rebounds.

She said post match she was proud to be the first netballer of African descent to wear Australian colours.

“It’s always been a goal of mine and it’s great to be able to achieve something so big not only for myself, but for the African community,” Aryang said.

Bruce also added that she was proud to play alongside her Fever teammate.

“Sunday and I have a really good relationship and a good partnership out there, but it’s such an exciting time to get to debut and it’s really special having another Western Australian get her opportunity.”

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The match as it played out

The Diamonds started off in typically quick fashion, getting stops on defense to get out to a 7-3 lead in the first six minutes.

However, they conceded a few turnovers due to an energetic South African defence plus a few costly errors, with the Proteas taking back the lead 8-7 nine minutes into the first.

From there it was end to end action between Ine-Mari Venter and Gretel Bueta as Australia took a 14-12 lead in a very entertaining first quarter.

They again started the second quarter extremely quickly, going on a 3-0 run. But the Proteas continued to put up a fight as Australia conceded more turnovers.

After Phumza Maweni intercepted it down back for the Proteas, Brazill did the exact same for Australia as it continued to be goal for goal at the Copper Box Arena.

Brazill continued her hard work on wing defence with a few more turnovers, as it continued to be goal for goal in the middle of the second quarter.

The first half ended in extremely entertaining fashion, with two massive chances for both sides to end the half as Australia led 27-23 at the main break.

After both sides made changes at half time, it was a similar start to previous quarters in the third quarter. However, they managed to continue their run a bit more as the Diamonds took a eight goal lead five minutes into the half.

It continued to be goal for goal for the middle part of the quarter, with Bueta and Venter continuing to fire for both their sides.

The Diamonds slightly increased their advantage towards the end of the quarter as Venter and Bueta continued their shootout. It increased a little bit more as the Diamonds held a comfortable 13 goal lead heading into the final quarter.

It was a scrappy start to the quarter, with the Proteas in particular missing a couple of chances and both conceding turnovers as the Diamonds took a 16 goal lead early on.

Both the Diamonds and Proteas made changes towards the end of the game. Whilst South Africa did fight back, Australia was far too strong as they locked their spot in the Quad Series Final with a comfortable win.

Gretel Bueta continued her superb series, scoring 28 goals and shooting at 90.3 per cent. Sophie Garbin was also subbed on in the second half, scoring 18 goals and shooting at 95 per cent.

Paige Hadley had 16 goal assists, with Steph Wood also getting 11 assists, but had four general play turnovers. On the Proteas side, superstar shooter Ine-Mari Venter scored 32 goals at 86 per cent, whilst Izette Griesel provided 15 goal assists.

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