New Zealand became Vitality Netball World Cup champions for the first time in 16 years on the tenth and final day of the tournament.
The Silver Ferns edged rivals Australia 51-52 in the final at the M&S Bank Arena in what proved to be another groudbreaking day for the sport.
Meanwhile, Vitality Roses ended their home Vitality Netball World Cup campaign with a bronze medal after defeating South Africa in the third-place play-off on the final day of the tournament.
We followed all of Sunday’s action:
7/8 pacing match: Zimbabwe 47-58 Uganda
Opening proceedings on the tenth and final day of the competition was an all-African affair. Zimbabwe and Uganda came head-to-head, with their fans lighting up the stadium for one last time, in a pulsating contest.
Uganda bettered there highest-ever finish – eighth in 2015 – by one place while Zimbabwe reached a respectable conclusion to their maiden Vitality Netball World Cup campaign.
The She Cranes scored 14 times across the quarter to maintain a three-goal advantage after the first 15 minutes but Zimbabwe had begun to cut the deficit, clawing back admirably to stay in the match.
The Zim Gems looked competitive, showing why they had become favourites at this summer’s tournament as they moved the ball around the court to a high-level, but the favourites never looked in any real danger.
Uganda were able to stretch their lead out in the second quarter, with Stella Oyella shooting at 100% after replacing Cholock, to help to take the half-time scoreline to 29-20 in the She Cranes’ favour.
The deficit was down to five at one point, when Takaidza scored Zimbabwe’s 37th of the contest, but a strong finish to the quarter from the She Cranes saw Oyella score three times in a row to give her side a 45-37 lead.
The game exemplified the fantastic spirit that both teams have brought to the tournament, and despite Zimbabwe ultimately falling short – 58-47 – their determination to stay in the contest deserves much praise.
5/6th placing match: Jamaica 68-50 Malawi
Jamaica secured fifth place at the Vitality Netball World Cup after victory over an impressive Malawi side.
Both sides had won three times at the M&S Bank Arena prior to this one and had played each other three times at World Cups in the past, with Jamaica winning all of those encounters.
There seemed to be no real threat of that record evaporating on Sunday morning as the Sunshine Girls quickly put down a marker.
Goal shooter Jhaniele Fowler of Jamaica opened the scoring within 14 seconds and scored another 19 within the first 15 minutes. Her shooting prowess ensured her side led by seven by the end of the first quarter.
Joyce Mvula’s Malawi did draw level at one point with the score at 25-25 but this would not last. The favourites headed into half-time with the score at 37-28 and never relinquished that lead.
Their 100% record against Malawi and a fifth-place finish will be small consolation in what will be Jamaica’s lowest finish since 1995.
3/4 placing match: Vitality Roses 58-42 South Africa
Vitality Roses came back from semi-final heartbreak against eventual champions New Zealand to secure a bronze medal.
In what was to be Tracey Neville’s final game as head coach, her side put in a convincing performance against the South Africans.
This is the third successive Vitality Netball World Cup that the Vitality Roses have finished with a medal due to their second victory over South Africa this summer. The previous encounter ended 58-47 and the hosts were looking to reproduce a similar level of performance.
Lenize Potgieter got South Africa off to a positive start, making her first five goal attempts and Housby, who started the game at goal shooter for England, also made a perfect start netting her first three shots as the score was 6-6 at the midway point.
A turnover at the expense of Serena Guthrie, however, allowed South Africa to reduce the deficit back to one goal, but Jo Harten scored her ninth consecutive goal of the quarter with just over ten seconds to go to give England a 14-12 lead.
The Vitality Roses’ defence was continuing to force the opposition into errors and Harten and Housby were making them pay. Their lead was up to 23-16 at the halfway stage of the quarter after three straight goals from Helen Housby.
The third quarter saw the Vitality Roses extended their advantage further as they scored four of the first five goals with Housby and Harten impressing.
The bronze medal was in the grasp of England as they began the final 15 minutes of their campaign and the crowd knew it too, as they created a party atmosphere at the final buzzer.
Geva Mentor said: “We’re delighted to be able to come away with something. We also would have loved to be in a final but it didn’t go our way yesterday. The important thing is that we got ourselves up and were able to come out and fire today. There are obviously some tired bodies out there but I thought we really dug deep. It was a real team performance.
“For us, it was just about getting over the heartache of not playing the game we wanted to play and making sure that our job wasn’t done yet. We still had one more performance to go and embrace everyone that was in this team because it’s probably the last time that some of us our together and obviously the last time that we’re with Tracey.”
Final: Australia 51-52 New Zealand
New Zealand were crowned Vitality Netball World Cup after they shocked defending champions Australia in front of another sell-out crowd in the final.
The Silver Ferns won their first world title for the first time since 2003, which was proceeded by relentless Australian dominance, after they took control.
New Zealand were ranked fourth in the world prior to this tournament but were exceptional against the Aussie Diamonds, a team they had beaten on the world stage just four times in 16 meetings.
Neither side could get into their free-flowing play in an error-plagued opening with both team’s defensive play forcing mistakes, but it was the experienced Bassett who was proving to be the difference as she continued to shoot perfectly to help Australia to an 8-4 lead after eight minutes.
The Silver Ferns averaged 61% possession in the first quarter but they failed to make that count as Australia started the second period much more assured and protective of the ball. Still nothing could separate the two sides as the pair traded goals and when any team did miss, they managed to grab the rebound and put it away.
New Zealand continued to maintain their advantage as Folau and Ekenasio, who were assisted brilliantly by Gina Crampton and Langman, dominated the Australia defence. The Diamonds struggled to turn over the ball, but they finally managed to force a significant one late in the quarter and they were able to reduce the deficit to four, so they trailed 41-37 going into the final quarter.
With five minutes remaining, New Zealand led 48-47 and a Bassett error allowed that to be extended to 51-48 by the Silver Ferns. Back came Australia with a turnover of their own and entering the final 90 seconds there was one goal in it.
The Silver Ferns’ quality and determination shone through in the latter stages as they confirmed their status as world champions.
Keep up to date on all the live action by following @EnglandNetball on Twitter.
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