Sport Netball Diamonds overwhelm Barbados 91-22 at Netball World Cup
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Diamonds overwhelm Barbados 91-22 at Netball World Cup

Australia's Paige Hadley keeps things moving at the M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool on Monday. Photo: Getty
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Australia has lifted its intensity at the Netball World Cup to record a 91-22 blowout win over Barbados in Liverpool.

The unbeaten Diamonds produced their best performance of the tournament on Monday to all but ensure they will qualify for the semi-finals.

A fourth lopsided win from four group games came a day after coach Lisa Alexander called on the tournament format to be addressed, believing fans and broadcasters want to see more competitive matches from the outset at the sport’s showpiece.

Any prospect of Barbados providing more fight than first-round group opponents Zimbabwe, Northern Ireland and Sri Lanka was blown away in the opening minutes.

Barbados’s Shonte Seale gets the better of Australia’s Kelsey Browne on Monday. Photo: Getty

Alexander said the biggest improvement came in Australia’s transition game.

“I was much more pleased with how quickly we got into defence after we turned the ball over,” she said.

“There was more intent from the players. It was just quicker and more intense.”

A new-look defensive combination conceded only two goals in the second quarter as Australia constructed a 46-7 lead at half-time.

Alexander emptied her bench at the main break, leaving just defenders Courtney Bruce and Jo Weston on court for a full game.

Weston played out of position at wing defence, the fourth player used in that role at the tournament as Alexander tries to pin down her best seven.

However, the coach said wing defence wasn’t necessarily proving problematic.

“It’s not giving me any headaches at all,” she said.

“It’s actually providing great options for us. I think we’ve got players who can cover most options out there.”

Rookie goal keeper Sarah Klau impressed in the first half at goal defence, while Jamie-Lee Price also had half a game in an unfamiliar bib, at centre.

All of Australia’s four shooters were busy, given half a game each.

Caitlin Bassett returned the only perfect figures, landing all 20 of her shots.

The 11-time champions should account for Malawi on Wednesday morning (AEST) before their only true group phase test, against New Zealand.

Both trans-Tasman rivals are expected to qualify for the top four, regardless of their result on Thursday.

New Zealand earlier beat Zimbabwe 79-36 to remain unbeaten, along with England and South Africa on the other side of the draw.

-AAP

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