Australia and New Zealand got their 2019 Vitality Netball World Cup campaigns off to the perfect start with impressive victories on day one in Liverpool.
Australia were in unforgiving mood in an 88-24 thrashing over Northern Ireland, a team ranked just seven places below them in the latest INF standings.
The Diamonds never looked back from a 7-0 start within the first five minutes and despite a brave a effort from Dan Ryan's team, the Northern Irish squad were no match for their superior opponents
The top-ranked side have their sights set on 12th world title and their opening match showcased their intense focus and technical skills. They dominated all over the court, especially in the shooting circle where they racked up 88 goals falling short of their record haul of 113 against Singapore in 1991
A mid-court collision in the third quarter saw Northern Ireland captain Caroline O'Hanlon taken off for treatment after a serious head clash saw her hit the court. Neamh Woods replaced her to bulk up the defence.
Australia had their own concussion worries, with pre-match concerns over Caitlin Bassett, after she suffered a concussion during training but the captain proved an indomitable force for the Diamonds, and combined with team-mate Steph Wood - made a demolition job of Northern Ireland's defence look easy.
In the inaugural game of the 2019 Vitality Netball World Cup, New Zealand kicked off their campaign with a 64-45 victory over Malawi.
|Group A||Australia 88-24 Northern Ireland|
|Group A||Zimbabwe 79-49 Sri Lanka|
|Group B||New Zealand 64-45 Malawi|
|Group B||Barbados 69-34 Singapore|
The Silver Ferns were out for revenge, after their last meeting against The Queens at the 2018 Commonwealth Games ended in shock defeat and while Malawi made them work throughout New Zealand's strength in the shooting department edged the Ferns over the line.
Elsewhere in Court Two action, the Caribbean flair of Barbados proved too much for newcomers Singapore, as they breezed to an impressive 69-34 victory with their speed and defensive work a hallmark of their win.
The Bajan Gems dominated from the start with vice-captain Latonia Blackman proving ruthless in front of goal and while Singapore, the lowest ranked side in the competition, improved in the final quarter it wasn't quite enough.
In the final morning game, an electrifying atmosphere shook the M&S Bank Arena, as Zimbabwe fans rallied their team to a 79-49 victory over Sri Lanka.
World Cup debutant's Zimbabwe brought their A-game and their intensity proved too much for a rather one-dimensional Sri Lankan side
Sri Lanka's veteran shooter, Tharjini Sivalingam, the tallest player in this year's World Cup at 6ft 10in, was impressive under the post but spurred on by the roar from their fans, Zimbabwe managed to pull away across the final two quarters.
Watch every match of the 2019 Vitality Netball World Cup live on Sky Sports. Coverage starts on Friday, July 12 plus keep up to date with all of the latest competition news, results and enjoy in-depth features at SkySports.com/netball