AUSTRALIA 70 – 46 MALAWI
In a nail-biting affair that was not decided until the second half of the match, Australia scored their second successive victory in Group F at the Netball World Cup 2023 in Cape Town when they beat Malawi 70-46.
It took a while for Malawi defenders Loreen Ngwira and Towera Vinkhumbu to work out how to box in the Australian shooters but once they got their number, they turned important possession back towards their own goal circle. Vinkhumbu, who also plays football at national level in Malawi, was outstanding outside the circle as well.
Five minutes into the second quarter however, Ngwira was helped from court after she went down with what appeared to be an ankle injury. She was replaced by Jane Dambo.
Malawi started with their strongest seven and it showed at halftime with the scores level at 28-all. The Queens outscored Australia 15-12 in the second quarter, the Diamonds’ first quarter loss in Cape Town.
The first changes in the Australian line-up were made in the third quarter with Sophie Garbin coming on as goal shooter and Jo Weston as goal defence.
The 11-time world champions then started building on what would become a healthy lead. Faster gameplay forced Malawi into silly mistakes like stepping and handling. Jamie-Lee Price’s appearance at centre injected even more urgency for Australia.
With more than 60 per cent of the possession and landing almost 92 per cent of their shots at goal in the last 15 minutes, the Diamonds overcame a shaky start and avoided what would have been the greatest upset in World Cup history.
Steph Wood only missed one of her 19 shots at goal and her general play as Australian goal attack earned her the Most Valuable Player award.
Australian coach Stacey Marinkovich said her side expected a tough battle against Malawi.
“Malawi are very good at holding possession. I thought they showed their athleticism, they were persistent in their movement, which we fully expected. They just play a little bit differently so the line of the ball and the place in which they play is a little bit unorthodox. You’ve just got to get your head around it and both teams were scoring quite well so it was just a tussle.”
She was also pleased with the performance of the players that came on.
“The plan was to make sure we still put our combinations out there but I was really pleased with the players that came on. I thought they impacted early, they got hand to ball, and they showed a presence, so it just reiterates that they’re sitting on the sideline taking in the game and they know what they’ve got to do when they step out.”
Malawi captain Jane Chimaliro said: “The girls started very well. It was a tough game but we really managed to control Australia in the first and second quarter. In the third quarter, it was where we did some unnecessary turnovers that caused us to not win the game.”
According to Chimaliro, there was some added motivation for the match against Australia.
“This morning we received a call from His Excellency the president in Malawi. We know that everyone in Malawi is behind us so that’s why we played like that and I know that they are happy. They watched a good performance, a good game today. They are happy with us even though we lost the game, they are still behind us.”
Q2: 28-28 (12-15)
Q3: 49-37 (21-9)
Q4: 70-46 (21-9)
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Steph Wood (Australia)
BARBADOS 55 – 50 SINGAPORE
Boosted by their first victory of the Netball World Cup 2023 over Sri Lanka on Monday, Singapore produced a strong start in their next Group E clash against Barbados in Cape Town on Tuesday.
Barbados have won all five previous Netball World Cup meetings between these two sides, the most recent one being a 69-34 victory at the last global tournament in Liverpool, in 2019.
Lacking some energy in the opening quarter, it looked like the Bajan Gems’ unblemished head-to-head record might come to an end. They went into the first break one goal down on 12-13.
But Singapore lost momentum somewhat in the second quarter, and a switch of Latonia Blackman to goal attack and Kadeen Corbin to goal shooter made all the difference for Barbados, who started pulling away to lead 29-24 at halftime.
The hugely experienced Blackman is playing at a record-equalling sixth Netball World Cup while Corbin has switched allegiance from England – where she was part of the team that claimed Commonwealth Games gold in 2018.
Like in so many of their previous matches, the Bajans’ intensity level seemed to drop in the third quarter. Exerting more defensive pressure, Singapore came back at them, first equalising at 33-all and then staying level to reach the final break on 40-40.
Three unanswered goals from Kadeen Corbin in the first two minutes of the final quarter saw Barbados pulling away again and this time they made it stick. Corbin finished with a 95 per cent shooting average as the Gems secured a 55-50 win.
Corbin was later named Most Valuable Player and said: “I’m always happy with a win, don’t get me wrong. I think it was a ground-out game today. We’ve got a lot of tired bodies – it’s been five days on the trot… We had to dig deep and find that energy. It takes one person to drive the team and if that had to be at the front to just make sure we were scoring those goals, then I’m going to do the job that I need to do.”
Q2: 29-24 (17-11)
Q3: 40-40 (11-16)
Q4: 55-50 (15-10)
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Kadeen Corbin (Barbados)