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Diamonds vs Zimbabwe result, analysis, summary, talking points, Courtney Bruce MVP

As expected, the Australian Diamonds’ opening match of the Netball World Cup – against Zimbabwe, ranked 13th in the world – was a “cobweb-blowing” exercise.

Here are the talking points out of the 86-30 thrashing Stacey Marinkovich’s side handed the Gems!

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The Diamonds opened their campaign with victory. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Netball World Cup 2023 via Getty Images)
The Diamonds opened their campaign with victory. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Netball World Cup 2023 via Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Bruce makes an Almighty statement in opener

Starting at goal keeper, Courtney Bruce took a few minutes to work her way into the match, but once she got a tip, she looked fearsome and went on to bank five gains in the first.

Across two quarters in keeper and a few minutes in goal defence in the last, the 29-year-old had a total of nine gains, made up of four intercepts, two deflections with a gain, and three rebounds. She also had five deflections without a gain in the MVP performance.

UK-based freelance netball writer Denise Evans said Bruce appeared to approach the opening match like a final.

“It was her intensity, the fire in her eyes, the dominance. It was almost as if Marinkovich had seen enough of the fire and needed to let it simmer down a bit by moving her out of keeper, for Sarah Klau, at half-time,” she said.

Complacency clearly isn’t a concept Bruce ascribes to, Evans said. “You can tell every game matters to the West Australian. Her attitude is impressive.”

“Marinkovich admitted she wanted to look at her combinations when she made a heap of changes at the main break, but we know Bruce can be just as good at goal defence too if needed … which is a scary prospect for teams set to face her in this tournament!” Evans said.

Courtney Bruce in action. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Netball World Cup 2023 via Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Lightning pair strike form in shooting circle

Two Aussie shooting combinations took the court against Zimbabwe; Lightning pair Steph Wood and Cara Koenen in the first half and Keira Austin and Sophie Garbin in the second.

And while Austin and Garbin put in four more goals combined in 30 minutes, Wood and Koenen were more accurate and looked sharper.

Fox Netball commentator, former Diamond Nat Medhurst said the Diamonds’ vice-captain and 190cm shooter from Magnetic Island are the go-to pair.

“It’s not only their Super Netball combination putting them in a great position, but individually their domestic performances have exceeded those remaining shooters in the side,” Medhurst said.

“Wood’s experience in these types of international campaigns will really be called upon in that shooting circle as they get into the pointy end of this World Cup.”

A little worrying was an air ball by Garbin, described as a “hectic-looking mess” by Fox Netball’s Cath Cox, just before three-quarter time. Garbin also missed the simple, undefended follow-up.

Cara Koenen in action. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Netball World Cup 2023 via Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

No time-outs, no problem, says captain Watson

Australian captain Liz Watson is confident her Diamonds have adjusted to playing 15-minute quarters without time-outs, a feature of Super Netball.

Speaking post-game in Cape Town, Watson dismissed concerns about the team’s ability to put in full quarters without a break.

“I think it was an adjustment when we first came into camp … not being able to stop the momentum of each other (or) call a time-out to reassess,” she said.

“Our whole training environment was based around 15-minute blocks, whether that was a drill or match play … to get us ready for this. I do feel we are back up to that level (as) obviously it’s very different from SSN,” Watson said.

Unlike in Super Netball, there are no tactical time-outs, rolling substitutions or super shots at the World Cup.

Time-outs mean Super Netballers rarely, if ever, play 15 minutes straight or have to problem-solve on the court, as they can rely on coaches to call a break and deliver instructions.

Rolling substitutions mean if a player is being beaten or is in penalty trouble, they can quickly be replaced, but at the World Cup, a substitution can technically only be made if there is an injury.

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