Happy birthday, Jo Harten!

Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com - 17/07/2019 - Netball - Vitality Netball World Cup 2019 - Trinidad & Tobago v England - M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool, England - Helen Housby and Jo Harten of England.

On day six of the Vitality Netball World Cup, teams from Group G and Group E returned to the M&S Arena after a well-deserved rest day for their second match of Preliminaries Stage Two.

We followed all of Wednesday’s action:

Session 9:

Group E: Sri Lanka 44 – 59 Fiji

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Fiji recorded their second win in a row to open the day’s proceedings. Facing up to Sri Lankan goal shooter Tharjini Sivalingam, Celtic Dragons defender Dee Bolakoro faced a tough challenge in marshalling the 6’8″ powerhouse who currently tops the table as the competition’s top goalscorer. The victory means the Pearls will go onto face Samoa in the 13th-place game on Friday morning.

Bolakoro commented on her side’s performance: “After losing two days ago, we went back, we had to regroup again and then we wanted to win today’s game to make it two in a row. We knew Sri Lanka was going to be a tough game as well but we were hoping to win again and I think it was just about keeping possession and executing every ball that we got.”

Group E: Singapore 49 – 63 Samoa

Samoa recorded a convincing victory over Singapore in the second game of the day, leaving Singapore yet to record a single win in the tournament. The game pitted top against bottom in Group E and that difference in placings was reflected on the court.

From the first quarter, which ended 9-16 in favour of the Samoans, it became evident which side would take the points.

With Samoa’s shooters recording impressive 100% and 93.8% shot rates throughout the game, their dominance in attack simply proved too much for Singapore to contend with. Toa Tanimo finished the match having converted 45 goals from 48 attempts, and her side won the final quarter by 19 goals to 15, the highest-scoring quarter of the game.

Session 10:

Group G: Trinidad & Tobago 46 – 72 England

The Vitality Roses are heading towards the Vitality Netball World Cup semi-finals by making it five wins out of five with a challenging but ultimately comfortable 72-46 victory over Trinidad and Tobago.

Kalifa McCollin brought her Vitality Netball Superleague form into this match with an accomplished display at goal attack for the Calypso Girls as she achieved 90% shooting accuracy, as well as eight assists and 17 feeds in an attempt to unsettle the Vitality Roses’ defence. However, Tracey Neville’s unbeaten outfit were not in a generous mood and Eboni Usoro-Brown’s presence brought security to their rearguard as she made four interceptions – the most in the match.

The tournament hosts opened up an eight-point lead in the first quarter with Haythornthwaite’s energy and creativity unsettling her opponents; she notched 18 assists. They rarely showed signs of relinquishing that advantage in an accomplished performance despite a resilient effort from Trinidad and Tobago in the closing stages.

Player of the match Jo Harten – who shot 36/40 – said: “I thought it was patchy in places and I thought it was far from perfect. Overall, I’m really happy.

“We’ve had some really clinical patches of play throughout these last five games. Today was another test, Trinidad and Tobago really brought it to us, but I felt like we bounced back from any lapses of concentration. Ultimately, I’m really happy with the girls and how we performed out there.”

Group G: Jamaica 67 – 36 Scotland

Scotland and their 11 Vitality Netball Superleague stars faced off Jamaica in the evening, the side ranked second in the world according to the International Netball Federation. After a tough defeat in their last outing with South Africa, the Scots came out fighting in the opening quarter.

In fact, the underdogs triumphed over a lacklustre Jamaica in an enticing first 15 minutes. In arguably what was their best quarter of netball at this year’s Vitality Netball World Cup so far, Strathclyde Sirens’ Claire Maxwell and her side were 13-14 ahead.

The Sunshine Girls quickly responded and showed exactly why they were so feared before the tournament began. The favourites, hurting after losses to South Africa and the Vitality Roses respectively, went into half-time leading by 11 and they extended this advantage by 24 before the fourth quarter.

Jodi-Ann Ward of Severn Stars and Celtic Dragons’ Stacian Facey impressed as they helped their side eventually record a 42-23 victory, restricting their Scottish counterparts to just 22 goals after their impressive first quarter.

Teenage goal shooter Emma Barrie said: “I think that’s the first time we ever won a quarter against Jamaica so that’s a really positive thing. We definitely learned a lot today. We’ll go back to the hotel, do analysis, see where we went wrong and we’ll come back stronger against Trinidad and Tobago.

“Having so many Sirens players [in the squad] definitely helps. We’ve had previous experiences together in pressure situations so that’s been really good for us coming into this Vitality Netball World Cup.”

Group G: South Africa 67 – 40 Uganda

South Africa enjoyed the best possible preparation for their heavyweight battle with the Vitality Roses on Thursday with a victory against Uganda. The SPAR Proteas’ win would not come easy, however, as the She Cranes have proved more than capable against fearsome opposition. With Peace Proscovia, who scored 10 from 11 attempts, the Ugandans battled hard but lost the first quarter by nine goals.

With the backing of the home crowd and their pocket of supporters in the stands, the underdogs were far from riled by their initial setback. They went into half-time having won the second quarter and followed up a fine 15 minutes with a fast start in the third.

The South Africans find themselves on top form this summer, though, and were not going to relinquish their lead. They went onto win that third quarter by five and the 21-7 scoreline in the final quarter ensured them of a place in their first Vitality Netball World Cup semi-final.

Keep up to date on all the live action by following @NetballSL on Twitter.

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