Australia have effortlessly cleared the second hurdle of netball World Cup defence by thrashing a valiant Zimbabwe 73-37 in England.
The Diamonds followed up their first-up demolition of Northern Ireland with another convincing victory in Liverpool, although Zimbabwe produced an admirable third quarter on Saturday as Australia only inflated their buffer by two.
Captain Caitlin Bassett nailed 49 goals from 53 attempts in combination with Gretel Tippett (24/28), the pair staying on court throughout.
Zimbabwe, backing up from their maiden World Cup triumph over Sri Lanka on Friday, brought plenty of physicality to a clash punctuated by 109 penalties.
“It was a physical match. The players that were out there felt it and it’s a good practice for us for later rounds,” Bassett said.
“I think they took advantage of their smaller stature.
“They use a lot of bounce passes and got around the body really well which is something we had a talk about at halftime, but it was hard to put the high ball in because they had really long reach.”
Australia exerted control from the outset when Liz Watson forced a turnover from Zimbabwe’s opening centre pass.
The Africans were far from cowed by their meeting with the tournament favourites, scoring the opening four goals of the second term to trim Australia’s lead to five.
Although Australia led 39-18, the third quarter was a tight affair with the usually unflappable Diamonds only edging the 15-minute period 15-13.
A dominant final quarter blew out Australia’s margin as Bassett, Tippett and quality defensive work from goal keep Courtney Bruce, who snared nine intercepts and four rebounds.
Midcourt general Liz Watson was also influential with a game-high 21 goal assists.
Australia now face winless Sri Lanka, who were beaten 67-50 by Northern Ireland, in their final preliminary round match on Sunday.