Tippett shines as dusty Diamonds down Proteas
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.