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Foundations of new Diamonds era built

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 27/08/2016 Angelo Risso

The foundations of the Australia's Quad Series tilt have been laid, according to coach Lisa Alexander.

Now the house must follow.

The world champions produced a slick display to outclass South Africa 68-43 in Saturday's opening fixture of the international netball season in Auckland.

Sustained dominance from offensive weapons Caitlin Bassett and Caitlin Thwaites, who scored a combined 51 points in their two quarters each, settled the contest for a superior Diamonds outfit.

Both goal shooters, towering at 193cm and 188cm respectively, used their height and reach advantage over Proteas defender Phumza Maweni to good use.

Bassett netted 28 from 30 efforts on goal, while Thwaites scored a perfect 23 from 23 in her second-half shift.

Goal attack Natalie Medhurst also nailed 12 points, while 24-year-old Stephanie Wood scored five on debut.

Alexander said the goal-scoring quartet had produced the goods for her side.

"They stood up to some quite physical pressure and they did that well," Alexander told reporters after the match.

"They were disciplined and pulled the ball in strongly and I think the ball was delivered really beautifully on most occasions, so I'm very pleased."

Australia went on the offensive from the get-go, hitting Bassett with passes over the top from midcourters Kim Ravaillion and the returning Madi Robinson.

At the other end, enforcer Sharni Layton marshalled from the back with authority and ensured the absence of skipper Laura Geitz didn't hamper the side.

The Diamonds raced to a nine-point lead in the first quarter before opening up a 16-point lead by the break.

Alexander rung in the changes after the break, introducing Thwaites, April Brandley and young gun Liz Watson.

All 12 Diamonds had made it onto the court by the end of the match, including debutants Wood and Kristiana Manu'a.

"We read what's happening out there and watch training form, and they both have trained very well," Alexander said.

"It was great to be able to put them on at the same time. They earned it."

The Diamonds next travel to Adelaide to take on England before sparring with rivals New Zealand in Melbourne.

Alexander said both sides would challenge her outfit.

"We know the English team and Silver Ferns are probably going to be a little bit tougher," she said.

"They're very different to the England team we faced in January and the Silver Ferns from last year.

"It's a whole new era."

The Silver Ferns defeated England 65-39 in the match immediately following the Diamonds' win.

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