The England Fives missed out on the chance of competing for the 2013 Fast5 title after stuttering to a trio of defeats on day two of the competition. On the final day of the tournament England will be facing Malawi in the fifth/sixth place play-off.
Having recovered from a heavy defeat to Australia to come back and claim victory over South Africa yesterday, the Fives looked to be continuing their upturn in fortunes when they came out at a blistering pace against Jamaica in their opening match of the day.
A fantastic opening quarter, with a Rachel Dunn Super Shot the highlight, saw England race into a 11-4 lead. Serena Guthrie was impressive on her first appearance in the tournament as England showed great flair and skill to overpower the Sunshine Girls. A more even second quarter saw the sides trade successful shots from outside the circle and the Fives were 17-13 in front at half-time.
The momentum and the match drastically altered in the third quarter with the Jamaican PowerPlay. England made only one successful attempt on goal in five efforts as the Sunshine Girls dominated, scoring two Super Shots as they took the quarter 20-1 and roared into a 33-18 advantage.
It was the turn of England to have the PowerPlay for the final quarter and despite an improvement in the shooting circle and a score for six from Kadeen Corbin, a shell shocked England couldn’t overturn the score and were eventually defeated 36-30, Dunn falling agonisingly short with a six point goal attempt on the final whistle to tie the game.
With pressure mounting, the Fives went into their second contest of day two against Malawi knowing that a win was becoming increasingly vital. The Queens shaded a scrappy opening quarter 5-4 as the tension continued on court. Malawi had their PowerPlay in the second quarter and used it to good effect to lead 23-12 at the interval. Rosie Allison was impressive in the shooting circle to keep England in touch.
The Fives had the PowerPlay advantage in the third quarter and despite a Super Shot from Dunn giving England the lead, they faltered badly in the closing stages and were 30-28 behind with six minutes remaining. The final quarter mirrored the opener, Malawi taking it 5-4 and England missing a flurry of chances to deny them the win. The Queens eventually prevailed 35-32.
One match remained and there was still an outside chance of the Fives making the semi-finals; however, to get there they would have to overcome the unbeaten and dominant Fast5 Ferns in a repeat of last year’s final.
An early Super Shot from Maria Tutaia pushed the hosts into an early lead but some solid scoring from Dunn drew England back into the game at 6-4 down in the opening quarter. The impressive attacking threat from New Zealand continued in the second quarter as Anna Thompson and Tutaia move the reigning champs into a 15-9 lead at half-time.
The Ferns took the PowerPlay in the third quarter and Cathrine Latu showed the depth of the attacking threat possessed by New Zealand as she sunk a Super Shot to keep the hosts in control. The Fives battled hard to remain in touch though and defended well to restrict the scoring opportunities for their opponents.
Trailing by twelve heading into the final quarter, England had the PowerPlay and six minutes to stay in the hunt for the overall title. Allison, Dunn and Corbin all threw six point goal attempts, unfortunately for the Fives it was only the experienced Dunn who managed to net. England managed to control the quarter but once again couldn’t overturn the deficit and sunk to a 31-27 defeat.
A common theme of failing to get back into the lead after falling behind in the opponent’s PowerPlay caused England to miss out on the semi-finals despite fighting bravely and narrowly losing out in each of the day’s matches.
The Fives take on the Queens and will be looking for revenge in the 5th/6th place play-off at 3:45am tomorrow as their 2013 Fast5 campaign comes to a close. The action will be shown on Sky Sports 2 at 10am tomorrow morning with live updates on the official England Netball facebook and twitter pages.