Australia have eased past Malawi 74-25 to make it five easy wins at the Netball World Cup in Liverpool but a tough finish to their title defence awaits.
The Diamonds conceded just two goals in the opening quarter and were 41-5 up at halftime on Wednesday (AEDT), led by commanding goal keeper Courtney Bruce, who finished with six gains, eight deflections and four rebounds.
The 11-time champions then took their foot off the throat and nearly lost a quarter for the first time at the tournament.
They ended up winning the final period 13-11 with their muddled finish explained by coach Lisa Alexander’s propensity to make multiple player changes as the match unfolded.
Alexander will nevertheless be unhappy that standards slipped ahead of Thursday’s clash with New Zealand, their final match before the semi-finals.
The Silver Ferns overwhelmed Northern Ireland 77-28 to remain unbeaten and are playing with renewed intensity under coach Noeline Taurua.
Alexander faces a host of tricky selection issues, most notably in the shooting circle where all four of her candidates have shone.
Caitlin Bassett has been as formidable as ever but Caitlin Thwaites is enjoying a prolific tournament.
Melbourne Vixens goal shoot Thwaites completed a second-successive perfect game, landing all 22 shots to give her 134 from 136 for the tournament.