Day three at the Netball World Cup brought the climax of Preliminaries Stage One as all the countries jostled for positions in their respective groups ahead of the next stage of the tournament.
The competition is heating up and we are across everything. Here’s our round-up of Sunday’s action.
Australia 99-24 Sri Lanka
The World Cup holders convincingly dispatched Sri Lanka to secure another big win and ensure they enter the latter stages in the best possible shape to retain their trophy. The Diamonds delivered a phenomenal offensive performance to fall just shy of triple figures. Their creativity was epitomised by the effervescent WA Kelsey Brown, who picked up 43 assists and 48 feeds, while Caitlin Thwaites scored 65/66. Maintaining an intensity right to the end in pursuit of 100 points, Australia were agonisingly close to that target as Sri Lanka did their best to frustrate them late on.
Northern Ireland 49-51 Zimbabwe
An incredibly tight contest ended in ecstasy for Zimbabwe as they squeezed Northern Ireland, who helped create a thrilling encounter. Dan Ryan’s side took the first quarter 15-12 but had their lead wiped out as Zimbabwe achieved the same score in the second to level proceedings at halftime. And it was still a stalemate after the third period as we headed into a decisive final quarter. The World Cup debutants would eventually open up a gap of a couple of vital points with less than two minutes remaining to ensure they placed second behind Australia. Northern Ireland are also through to Group F but were understandably crestfallen at the final whistle.
Captain Caroline O’Hanlon said: “Pretty gutted, we gave it everything but we made too many errors and we’ll have to go look at that at the breakdown but you know, we made errors across the four quarters and those were costly in the end. The game was there for the taking and we should’ve closed it out.”
New Zealand 89-21 Singapore
The Silver Ferns kicked off day three with a destructive display against Singapore to secure a third successive win and top spot. In-form GS Maria Folau finished with 96.4% accuracy off 28 shots, while Te Paea Selby-Rickit recorded similarly impressive figures of 37/39. Singapore struggled against a ruthless New Zealand, who restricted their opponents to just three points in the second quarter; Phoenix Karaka contributed to a strong defence with six intercepts. The Kiwis have slipped behind England and Jamaica in the World Rankings but they have not missed a World Cup final since 1995 and will continue to grow stronger.
New Zealand GK Casey Kopua said: “It was another opportunity to get out on court and fine-tune the gameplan but also to be able to have a bit of fun. It’s important for us to move forward every day and take what we can from each game into the next one.”
Malawi 65-41 Barbados
The Queens claimed second spot, courtesy of a fairly comfortable victory over Barbados who rallied in the final quarter. Having only just recovered from injury to make the World Cup, Manchester Thunder GS Joyce Mvula continued to perform well with 93.6% shooting accuracy. The Bajan Gems struggled for that consistency in their attack and were ultimately outgunned by the opponents but both teams will enter Group F at the next stage.
Jamaica 52-55 South Africa
In a battle of two heavyweights, it was South Africa who upset the second highest-ranked side in international netball with a win that confirms their credentials as potential champions. The match was effectively over after the first quarter as Lenize Potgieter’s sharpshooting helped establish a seven-point advantage, adding four more points on to that lead by halftime to leave The Sunshine Girls with what seemed an insurmountable task. However, a resurgent Jamaica brought the scored down to 38-42 ahead of the final period. Parity was restored in a dramatic fourth quarter but South Africa had just enough to get over the line and secure a tremendous victory and top spot in the group.
Trinidad & Tobago 67-56 Fiji
Fiji were denied a place in Group G as Trinidad & Tobago claimed their first win of the tournament in an intriguing encounter. Trinidad dominated the first quarter while Fiji controlled the fourth, with two closely-fought periods sandwiched in between. However, the Calypso Girls were well-worth the win with Samantha Wallace accurate with her shooting at one end (95.2%) and Shaquanda Green solid in defence at the other, posting five intercepts.
England 90-24 Samoa
The Vitality Roses produced another good performance to hammer Samoa, levelling the tournament’s record points total before Australia eclipsed their score later in the day. Jo Harten made no mistake with her shooting, converting all 41 of her efforts. She was accompanied in attack by Rachel Dunn, who consolidated her position as England’s top scorer at the World Cup with figures of 30/34. The result sees the hosts finish top of the group as they await tougher tests in Group G.
“We just had some fun out there today, letting the ball go, off the pass, off the shot and it was a good win and a good performance. We had to respect Samoa. We put out a really strong team and we had to get off to a good start but once we had the jitters and the nerves out the way we were just having fun out there.”
Uganda 52-43 Scotland
The Scottish Thistles fell narrowly short against Uganda in a highly competitive affair. The She-Cranes were clinical going forward in the first quarter and gradually extended their advantage as the game wore on. However, Scotland did take the third period 12-11 as they demonstrated their ability to compete with a very talented side. Both teams progress to Group G on the day Claire Maxwell also collected her 100th cap in the famous blue dress.
Maxwell spoke about her milestone: “What a privilege, to do it in front of so much home support is fantastic and I’m really proud to be at this point in my career and thanks to everyone who has been on my journey throughout.”