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Diamonds wrap up Proteas series with 67-52 win in Hobart

Sophie Dwyer lines up a shot against South Africa in Hobart on Sunday.

Sophie Dwyer lines up a shot against South Africa in Hobart on Sunday. Photo: Getty

Australia has overcome the “uncomfortable clunkiness” of coach Stacey Marinkovich trying different combinations to clinch the three-match series against South Africa with a 67-52 victory in the first netball Test played in Hobart.

As was the case in the opener last week, Australia won each quarter on Sunday, leading by margins of five, seven and 12 respectively at the breaks.

But the final margin at MyState Bank Arena was four less than In the opening game and South Africa had the player of the match in exciting shooter Kamelo Maseko.

Australia recorded its 45th win over South Africa in as many games.

The Diamonds made more gains and intercepts and were more clinical in converting them into goals, while also conceding fewer turnovers.

It was a 15th victory from 18 matches in 2023 for Australia, which won the early year Quad Series, the World Cup and retained the Constellation Cup.

Cara Koenen (27/27) was rock solid across all four quarters and fellow shooter Donnell Wallam (25/27) impressed after being brought on for the second half.

Marinkovich made three changes to her starting side from game one, four more at half-time and by the end of Sunday’s encounter had used all of her 12 players bar shooter Sophie Garbin.

“I’m trying some different combinations out there,” Marinkovich said.

“Defensively we could have stepped up a little bit more in the first part of the game, but I thought we started to get some rhythm.

“Any time you can score 67 goals you’ve got to be pretty happy with it by the end.

Five successive goals gave the Diamonds a 7-2 lead and the early momentum, but South Africa jumped the hosts at the start of the second quarter with a 6-1 run to draw level.

Australia reasserted itself, outscoring the Proteas 13-6 for the remainder of the quarter.

Feeling her side had become stagnant and needed more energy, Marinkovich changed the side up for the second half.

Maseko (20/23) brought more flair to the Proteas’ attack and caught the Diamonds off guard on three occasions by scoring a goal after bouncing the ball off the post back to herself.

Proteas and former Diamonds coach Norma Plummer declared herself happy with South Africa’s performance, especially as it had risen early to watch their compatriots win the Rugby World Cup final, which started at 6am Hobart time.

“We started off shaky and that’s just learning to get into the game,” Plummer said.

“But I’m so impressed with the way they finally went up and put the body in and were able to cope with the pressure over them.”

The series concludes in Hobart on Tuesday.

-AAP

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