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Netball: Australia overcomes slow start to beat Wales

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The Australian Netball Team celebrated Tegan Caldwell’s international Test debut with a 63-36 victory over Wales in the opening game of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games on Thursday.

The 25-year-old goal attack became the third Australian to make her debut at a Commonwealth Games, following Susan Fuhrmann and Susan Pratley in 2006, as coach Lisa Alexander gave all 12 of her players court time in the first win.

The Australians had to overcome a slow start against a plucky Welsh side as the world’s top ranked team was held to a 10-9 advantage at quarter-time at the Scottish Convention & Exhibition Centre (SECC).

Despite the early scare, the Australian’s found their feet, scoring eight straight goals to start the second quarter, to stamp their authority on the match as they piled on 22 goals to eight to lead by 15 goals at half-time.

Alexander turned to her bench at the main break and introduced Caldwell, Caitlin Thwaites (GS), Kimberley Ravaillion (C), Sharni Layton (WD) and Julie Corletto (GD).

Caldwell, who became Australia’s 162nd international Test player, showed little signs as nerves as she converted her first attempt at goal in the green and gold, finishing the game with 12 goals from 15 attempts at 80 per cent accuracy.

Inaccuracy cost Wales in the third quarter, converting just 50 per cent of chances under the post, as the Australians extended their 32-17 half-time lead despite having fewer opportunities at goal.

Wales battled hard but could do little as Australian captain Laura Geitz led by example to finish the game with eight deflections, three intercepts and four rebounds in four quarters of play.

“I’m pretty happy with that win, they came out firing and played with lots of passion, which is what we needed to do. It’s good to get that game out of the way,” Geitz said. “Wales have done a lot of work and have improved a lot since we last played them.”

The debut caps off a remarkable year for Caldwell, who has enjoyed a breakout year that saw her named the ANZ Championship Grand Final’s Most Valuable Player and gained her first Australian selection.

“It’s pretty crazy it all worked out and I got a run; I’m excited and just so proud to be here,” Caldwell said. “Opportunities just opened up for me, it’s been a massive year so I was very happy to nail that first (international) goal today.”

The Australian Netball Team, who recorded their seventh consecutive international Test win with victory over Wales, will take on England in their next match on Saturday at 9.30am (6.30pm AEST).