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Australia left to play for fifth in Fast5

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Monday, November 12, 2012

AUCKLAND - Two narrow losses consigned Australia to finishing bottom in pool play at the inaugural Fast5 netball world series in Auckland.

They were pipped 28-27 by South Africa and 34-33 by Jamaica on Saturday to end the round-robin phase winless and will play off for fifth place in the six-nation tournament.

New Zealand made it three from three on Saturday to maintain an unbeaten record, downing Malawi 44-24, South Africa 52-19 and main rivals England 47-31.

That left the hosts with four wins and draw from the round-robin phase as they look ahead to facing Jamaica on Sunday for a place in the final.

The other semi-final will be between England and South Africa, who both qualified with three wins.

Australia arrived at the tournament with a squad of emerging talent, unlike other nations, particularly New Zealand, who chose a squad deep in Test experience.

The Fast5 Diamonds contained just two Test players, defender Chanel Gomes and shooter Caitlin Thwaites, both of them rookies.

Despite her team's run of five losses over the past two days, Thwaites says the disappointment is softened by the fact that the margin in three of the matches was two goals or fewer.

"We can definitely take some positive things out of it," she said.

"It's a huge learning experience and it's woken us to how great the talent is in the other countries."

Thwaites believed the lessons for Australia in the latest shortened version of netball included improving their one-one-one defence and making better use of their power plays, when goals are worth double.

A feature of the Australian performance was how few 'super shot' attempts they put up, compared with other teams.

They scored only three goals from beyond the shooting circle - which are worth three points, doubled to six in a power play - and didn't have a go once in their last three matches.

Thwaites, who landed two of the super shot goals, said it was a case of personnel, with other countries having players "who could shoot the lights out" from distance.

"We've probably chosen the safer options as opposed to throwing away some of the chances."





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