Diamonds still yet to face real test of credentials

The landslide victories keep coming for the Diamonds - and so the do the selection shake-ups.

Coach Lisa Alexander rang yet more changes in the 91-22 drubbing of an erratic, error-prone Barbados to claim a perfect four from four in Liverpool.

The Caribbean nation were no match for the defending champions, whose superb defence applied pressure throughout despite several personnel shifts.

Steph Wood (C) in action during Australia’s World Cup thrashing of Barbados. Picture: AP
Steph Wood (C) in action during Australia’s World Cup thrashing of Barbados. Picture: AP

None of Alexander's 12-player squad have started every one of Australia's games thus far, and many of the magnets moved.

Whether that's simply a reflection of Alexander's heavy rotation policy, or whether she's not yet settled on her strongest line-up is unclear.

What is, is that wing defence is still not a set-in-stone position.

Before this game Jamie-Lee Price, April Brandley and even Paige Hadley have been given that role.

On this occasion it was Jo Weston, and the Melbourne Vixens defender didn't disappoint with an assured player-of-the-match performance.

"I think we've just got lots of options there and that's what we've worked on for this tournament," Alexander said.

"We wanted to have the flexibility of being able to have a number of different styles of play to combat our opposition.

"We'll have a look at our opposition tomorrow and the next day and set whichever wing defence we think is going to do the best job against their opponent."

Australian head coach Lisa Alexander (C) has switched up her side once again. Picture: AP
Australian head coach Lisa Alexander (C) has switched up her side once again. Picture: AP

Diamonds newcomer Sarah Klau enjoyed the first half at goal defence before Brandley took over.

The Collingwood Magpie was but one of a near-full set of halftime substitutions, with every bib rolled over except Weston and Courtney Bruce at goalkeeper.

"Really thrilled overall," Alexander said.

"We wanted to have a look at that tall big defence end and Sarah's game at goal defence was terrific.

"We played a little bit differently to how we normally play and it was great.

"They know they're a great, strong team of 12 and we can pop anyone out there at different times to do a job."

Paige Hadley has been tried at wing defence — but was deployed at centre against Barbados. Picture: AP
Paige Hadley has been tried at wing defence — but was deployed at centre against Barbados. Picture: AP

With world No.9 Malawi up next, further testing could be afoot to perfect the desired combinations in time for Friday's showdown with New Zealand.

That's not to say these preliminary games don't matter - the points count towards a favourable semi-final match-up which top-ranked Australia must win to meet expectations following last year's Commonwealth Games slip.

Yet this contest fit Alexander's example of a tedious, uninspired viewing spectacle for both fans at M&S Bank Arena and at home on TV.

Kelsey Browne looks to pass the ball with Barbados' Shonte Seale looking on. Picture: AP
Kelsey Browne looks to pass the ball with Barbados' Shonte Seale looking on. Picture: AP

And the scoreline was hardly shocking - 11th-ranked Barbados had lost two of their three first-phase group games including a heavy defeat to New Zealand, reigning only against lowly Singapore.

Here they were bulldozed by Australia's defence with a total 57 turnovers, and when they did sneak through their shooting accuracy let them down, with only two goals in the second quarter.

News Corp Australia


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