Sophie Garbin continues to sparkle in the green and gold (Picture: Netball Australia)

With the netball world’s eyes on Australia’s form in the Constellation Cup and the series against the Roses, there has been no better time for the Fast 5 competition. The Australians came away unbeaten on Day One with matches against top-tier sides in Jamaica, South Africa and New Zealand.

Australia vs Jamaica

Australia have started the 2022 Fast Five Netball competition and opening game of the tournament on a high note, clinical from start to finish.

Australia had their combinations clicking from the first quarter onwards, with Lucy Austin and Georgie Horjus getting the Aussies to a good start. Jamaica struggled to keep up with the Aussies quick ball movement, struggling to shoot goals of their own in the second quarter.

As a unit, Australia controlled the game on their own terms and continued to look slick, with players off the bench continuing the quick ball movement and Jamaica struggling to keep up with Australia’s space and getting stops defensively.

The Australian defensive end of Tilly McDonell and Tara Hinchliffe caused headaches for the Jamaica shooting end, while the Australian shooting circle unit in Austin, Horjus and Dwyer continued to punish on the score board and keep the lead ticking.

Jamaica struggled defensively getting stops, with Australia dominate in the intercept and gains categories and winning the match, 39-15. Whilst it was a team effort, Kim Jenner was named Player of the Match, going for every ball, being hungry for intercepts and being a workforce in the circle.

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Australia vs South Africa

Australia have won their second game of the Fast Five Netball competition, being challenged by a resilient South Africa side. Sophie Garbin was instrumental in the first quarter, using her strengths to hold strongly and allow Horjus to work in the circle.

With Australia building momentum from one-point range, South Africa put up a challenge, applying pressure defensively and not allowing any easy possession of the ball and converting their power plays later in the first quarter.

Whilst South Africa were able to apply the pressure in the second quarter, Australia found the likes of Kelsey Browne and Sophie Dwyer to combining well up front. Both teams had no easy possession of the ball with South Africa continuing to add the pressure.

With Australia dominating shooting wise in the first half, they continued winning ball back through Hinchcliffe, McDonnell and Jenner. Despite this, they struggled to convert, with South Africa continuing to challenge and match the tempo of Australia.

South Africa centre Shannon Barlett was a shining light, matching it with the likes of Kelsey Browne and Jess Anstiss using her speed and tight defensive pressure. For South Africa it was the turnovers that were the story, unable to convert goals after winning the ball back, while Australia’s defensive end stepped up at critical moments and were the better team winning the match 25-19.

Australia vs New Zealand

After a hot start by the Aussies, the Kiwis chased them down to go 6-8 in the first quarter. The Australians would have led by more if not for a clutch four point score in the dying seconds to get the New Zealanders closer to their rivals. The experience of Kelsey Browne was crucial in the opening minutes to help the Australians in the centre.

In the second quarter it was Sophie Garbin and Sophie Dwyer who stepped up with rebounds and great shooting. The Australians got the better of the Kiwis topping the rebounds, deflections and gains while minimising their losses and penalties. They led at half time 11-19.

Three quarter time brought the Thunderbirds attacking partnership onto the court where childhood friends Georgie Horjus and Lucy Austin showed they work extremely well together with that chemistry being well established. With Dwyer’s long bombs helping the cause, the Australians went into the final term with a 13-point lead.

With a shaky start to the final quarter, the Australians had a few turnovers which saw the New Zealand pile on the goals to be within a couple of maximum scores away. With one minute to go the teams were tied on 31 each but the Aussies held their nerve to win 33-31 to go unbeaten from all three Day One matches.

Sophie Garbin continued on her golden run of form shooting 14/15 to be crowned the Player of the Match.

Australia play two games on Sunday in Day Two of Fast 5 Netball. They take on Uganda first up with the big match-up against England coming in the afternoon.

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