Tip­pett shines as dusty Di­a­monds down Proteas

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT -

GRETEL Tip­pett has stood tallest in the ab­sence of cap­tain Caitlin Bas­sett as a rusty Aus­tralia beat South Africa 62-45 in the open­ing Quad Se­ries Test in Liver­pool.

The world champs trailed the Proteas 16-11 af­ter a hap­haz­ard first quar­ter on Sun­day but grad­u­ally found their feet at Echo Arena, the venue for this year’s World Cup.

They did it without goal shoot Bas­sett, who suf­fered a frac­tured fore­arm dur­ing a warm-up match in Manch­ester on Thurs­day, rul­ing her out of the tour­na­ment.

Shooter Caitlin Th­waites was solid in the first half be­fore be­ing re­placed by goal at­tack spe­cial­ist Steph Wood.

Tip­pett was rock solid at goal at­tack, named player of the match af­ter land­ing 30 of 32 shots. She un­earthed a slick con­nec­tion with Wood as the Di­a­monds won the fi­nal quar­ter 19-7.

Lisa Alexan­der’s play­ers have barely seen a net­ball court since win­ning the Con­stel­la­tion Cup in Oc­to­ber and it showed early on.

How­ever, she didn’t want ex­cuses for a list­less start.

“South Africa did some beau­ti­ful things in that first quar­ter and we were caught nap­ping,” Alexan­der said. “We can’t af­ford that against New Zealand or Eng­land.”

The Proteas sped the ball down­court too eas­ily, prompt­ing Alexan­der to in­tro­duce Jo We­ston at goal de­fence and Jamie-lee Price at wing de­fence to stem the flow.

The key changes came up front in the sec­ond half, when Wood and wing at­tack Kelsey Browne used their fresh­ness to stretch the Proteas while Liz Wat­son looked more com­fort­able when shifted back to cen­tre.

Wood’s ex­tra speed trou­bled South African goal keep Phumza Maweni, who had proven a hand­ful for Th­waites.

Aus­tralia’s Gretel Tip­pett (right) in ac­tion against South Africa.

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