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2019 Netball World Cup group stage: Australia vs Northern Ireland
|Venue: M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool, England|
|Match time: Q4 15'|
The Australian Diamonds will begin their Netball World Cup title defence in Liverpool with a pool match against Northern Ireland. Join The Roar for all the action, with live scores and a blog of the match from 8pm (AEST).
Australia travelled to England a little over a week ago to settle in and prepare for another World Cup. Four years ago, on home soil, Australia beat New Zealand in the final 58 to 55, to lift the trophy for the 11th time.
Following the disappointing silver medal finish at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, the Diamonds are striving for their fourth consecutive World Cup title in Liverpool this July.
In the opening match, the Aussie line up will meet Northern Ireland, led by captain Caroline O’Hanlon.
After a number of key retirements post-2018 Commonwealth Games, ex-Adelaide Thunderbirds Dan Ryan was tasked with re-building the Northern Ireland national squad.
While this first match might prove too big of a challenge, Northern Ireland will be out to cause some upsets throughout the week, with a mixture of experience and fresh faces who could do it.
O’Hanlon and her vice-captain Fionnuala Toner, as well as midcourter Michelle Drayne, performed well in the Vitality Superleague (the elite netball competition in the UK) and will lead the way for Northern Ireland in Liverpool.
In practice last week, Australian captain Caitlin Bassett suffered a mild concussion and missed both warm-up matches against Manchester Thunder and England A.
She is expected to be fit for the opening match, however, Australia will likely take a cautious approach with regards to game time.
The last time these two teams played was at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April, 2018.
Australia absolutely dominated the match, walking away with a 68-goal victory, 94 to 26.
Unfortunately for Northern Ireland, the match is likely to be another one-sided affair, with the Diamonds a class above as the number one side in the world.
Really, this is likely be more of a training drill than a truly competitive hit-out for the Diamonds. In fact, they are unlikely to find much competition in the group stage at all.
Australia to win by 43 goals.
Venue: Court 1 M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool, England
Time: 8pm (AEST)
TV: Channel 9
Betting: Australia $1.005, Northern Ireland $19.00
Caitlin Bassett (captain), April Brandley, Kelsey Browne, Courtney Bruce, Paige Hadley, Sarah Klau, Jamie-Lee Price, Caitlin Thwaites, Gretel Tippett, Liz Watson, Jo Weston, Steph Wood
Northern Ireland (squad)
Lisa Bowman, Niamh Cooper, Shaunagh Craig, Ciara Crosbie, Michelle Drayne, Gemma Lawlor, Emma Magee, Michelle Magee, Lisa McCafrey, Caroline O’Hanlon (captain), Fionnuala Toner, Neamh Woods