AUSTRALIA 55-56 ENGLAND
England followed South Africa’s stunning performance against New Zealand on Wednesday with one of their own when they scored their first-ever World Cup victory over 11-time champions Australia at the Netball World Cup 2023 in Cape Town. This is only the eighth time in total that the Roses have managed to beat the Diamonds in any competition since the teams’ first match in 1956.
It was England goal defence Fran Williams’ brilliant deflection in the final moments that prevented Australia from securing a draw. The win means England finishes top of Pool F with Australia second. Both teams are through to the semifinals which will be contested on Saturday.
It was England who gained an early advantage with shooters Eleanor Cardwell and Helen Housby capitalising on their opportunities. A late intercept by Funmi Fadoju on goal defence gave England a 15-13 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Superstar Australian defender Courtney Bruce was substituted by Sarah Klau and she immediately made her impact felt, helping Australia regain ground and overtake England for a 32-26 lead at halftime.
In the second half, England started chipping away at the Australian lead.
The third quarter saw changes for both teams, with Williams moving into goal defence for England and Fadoju moving to goalkeeper. For Australia, Jamie-Lee Price replaced Paige Hadley on centre.
With solid play and key turnovers, England won the third quarter 18-13 and headed into the final 15 minutes of the match just one goal behind Australia.
The Roses took the lead early in the final quarter with a goal by Cardwell. Australia stayed strong on defence while England remained calm in the pressure cooker situation.
The match ebbed and flowed in the final minutes, with neither side giving an inch. Ultimately though, Australia lost pivotal moments throughout the match, handing England the upset victory.
England goal attack Helen Housby was named Most Valuable Player. She sank all 22 attempts at goal, was involved in 12 goal assists, responsible for six turnovers in general play and grabbed an intercept to boot.
Australian coach Stacey Marinkovich said her team had their chances and they will have to take a look at how to be more direct.
“In terms of our discipline, I don’t think we were too bad. There were moments when we had to accumulate pressure a little earlier. Our second quarter was very good in terms of how we were able to get the ball to the shot. It was loud out there, no doubt, and we haven’t had that for a bit. I don’t know if the atmosphere unsettled us, but we didn’t stay calm and go through our structures when we needed to.”
When asked about the tag of “underdogs” coming into the World Cup, England coach Jess Thirlby said her side don’t pay much attention to what anyone else thinks.
“From a netball perspective, we know how good we are. From a technical point of view, we are on par with the top teams. The most reassuring thing we are taking away from today is to be able to come back from eight down and see a game out in the closing quarter, this is the most valuable thing we can take away.”
Q2: 32-26 (19-11)
Q3: 45-44 (13-18)
Q4: 55-56 (10-12)
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Helen Housby (England)
JAMAICA 59 – 48 NEW ZEALAND
Jamaica and defending champions New Zealand went head-to-head in their final Group G encounter to effectively decide who would top the group.
Jamaica famously beat the Silver Ferns in convincing fashion in the semifinal of last year’s Commonwealth Games, eventually going on to claim the silver medal in Birmingham. The Sunshine Girls once again emerged victorious, their impressive 59-48 win a first over New Zealand at a Netball World Cup.
Having had to bounce back from a nail-biting draw with hosts, South Africa, late on Wednesday, New Zealand raced to an early lead before the Jamaicans could put in their first goal. But once they levelled matters at 10-all, they didn’t look back. Both goal shooter Jhaniele Fowler and goal attack Shanice Beckford shot at 100 per cent in the opening quarter as the Jamaicans notched up a five-goal lead by the first break.
Neither team made any changes to their lineup at the start of the second quarter, which proved to be another fiercely fought one. The Silver Ferns looked more impressive on attack, holding onto their possession and outscoring the Sunshine Girls by one goal during the period. But a strong finish from the Jamaicans meant they still held a three-goal lead heading into halftime. There was some concern when the impressive Shamera Sterling, who has been nursing an ankle injury, limped off court during the third quarter and was replaced by Kadie-Ann Dehaney at goalkeeper.
Adean Thomas came on to replace Khadijah Williams at wing attack for the Jamaicans at the start of the third quarter while New Zealand coach Noeline Taurua continued to stick with her starting seven. The good news for Jamaica was that Sterling was fit enough to return to court with six minutes remaining in the period. New Zealand again enjoyed some good passages on play and won the quarter by just one goal but it was not enough to catch the fired-up Jamaicans.
With pressure mounting in the final period, some errors started to creep into the New Zealand game. Coach Taurua finally brought on several substitutes but it did little to stem the flow of Jamaican goals. While Romelda Aiken-George came on for the final few minutes of the match at goal shooter, the imperious Fowler finished with a 100 per cent shooting average, firing in all 49 of her attempts and being named Most Valuable Player. The 11-goal victory for her side saw them handing the defending champions their largest ever defeat at a Netball World Cup.
Speaking after the match, Jamaica’s assistant coach Keyan Murdock said: “It was a very good game, it kept us on our toes the entire match. We expected it to be that though – it’s New Zealand we were playing. They’re number two in the world for a reason and so we expected that kind of a performance from them.
“We were glad that our team were able to ride the waves and pull through at the very end. There are always things to work on but we’re happy for the win,” he added.
Jamaica captain and MVP Fowler said her side’s discipline and focus made all the difference. Asked about her own performance, she added: “To be honest, I felt no pressure throughout the game. I knew what was expected of me and so I just did my best to go out there and deliver.
New Zealand coach Noeline Taurua said: “I thought we still turned over a lot of ball. I thought it was gallant – I think that’s a good word – and they fought right through until the end. There were so many changes that were happening from Jamaica and it was quite physical as well.
“Pity it ended in that way because I thought it was quality from both teams… but there are some positives we’ll be able to take out of it and some lessons that we’ve got to learn – these reoccurring themes that are coming out that we need to be better on.”
Silver Ferns captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio added: “I think we felt in control when we had ball in hand… I think we were definitely in it until we let ourselves down a little bit, but actually for most of it I was very proud of our intent to stick to our gameplan.”
Q2: 26-23 (11-12)
Q3: 41-39 (15-16)
Q4: 59-48 (18-9)
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Jhaniele Fowler (Jamaica)
WALES 70 – 55 TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
Wales faced off against Trinidad and Tobago in Cape Town on Thursday with a place in the 9th/10th playoff at the Netball World Cup 2023 on the line.
The two sides have met at eight previous World Cups with the Caribbean side having won all of those encounters. But on Thursday it was the Welsh Feathers who enjoyed the early momentum. Trinidad and Tobago looked a little flat from the start and were struggling to hold onto their ball, allowing the Welsh to edge ahead and take a four-goal lead into the first break.
The match came alive in the second quarter with the Calypso Girls finding some of the rhythm and flair that they’ve displayed at the tournament so far while the Welsh stuck to their structures and continued to outpace their opponents. Trinidad and Tobago’s Afeisha Noel provided plenty of entertainment in the shooting circle, mixing it up with several layups and shots from distance. With the teams both scoring 15 goals in the quarter, Wales retained their four-goal lead at halftime.
The Welsh came out firing in the third quarter and Trinidad and Tobago were far less effective on defence. Wales were able to move with speed through the midcourt to feed their shooters, with Georgia Rowe excelling in the circle. The 6 ft 4 goal shooter finished a dominant quarter for Wales with 13 goals from her 13 attempts while she finished the match with a 98 per cent shooting average.
The final quarter was a close one, with only one goal the difference between the sides but ultimately the Welsh stood strong to wrap up a memorable 70-55 victory.
Wales will now play off for ninth place, while the highest Trinidad and Tobago can finish is 11th. Those positions would mirror their current world rankings with the Welsh currently in ninth and the Calypso Girls in 11th spot.
Speaking after the match Rowe said her side weren’t focused on the fact that they could claim a first win over the Calypso Girls in Netball World Cup history.
“It feels really good. I don’t think we allowed ourselves to have that pressure of it being the first time. I think we were coming in today after a disappointing loss yesterday and just making sure we were really connected,” she said.
“We stuck to our structures and weren’t focusing so much on who our opposition were, but just on what we were putting out on court, so we’re really pleased. Obviously, the fact that we had never beaten them is an extra celebration for us. I just think it was a complete team effort, which is really good.”
Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Daystar Swift said: “I felt they had better discipline. I felt the Welsh team were making safer passes and that really worked for them, getting the ball to the circle edge
“The energy was down. We tried our best before the game to really lift our spirits and take that spirit on court. Unfortunately, we now play for 11th and 12th which is not what we were expecting but we are working hard to seal that 11th spot and we definitely don’t want to go lower than that.”
Q2: 32-28 (14-14)
Q3: 53-39 (21-11)
Q4: 70-55 (17-16)
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Phillipa Yarranton (Wales)
FIJI 46 – 62 SCOTLAND
With the Scottish supporters belting out “Flower of Scotland” from the stands, the Thistles secured a 62-46 victory over Fiji in a Pool F match at the Netball World Cup 2023. With the win, Scotland advanced to the 9th/10th playoff while Fiji will contest for 11th/12th place.
This was the sixth World Cup meeting between the two countries. Thursday’s Scottish victory has levelled matters at three victories each.
Scotland started strongly with a commanding performance in the first 15 minutes. The mid-court, with captain Claire Maxwell at centre playing in her third World Cup, presented quality ball to the shooters who only missed one of their attempts. At the other end, the pressure Scottish defenders Cerys Finn and Emily Nicholl put on the Fiji shooters added to the error count of the Islanders growing.
Starting the second quarter five goals down, the Fiji coaching staff made several changes off the bench as well as positional switches on court, including Ana Nauqe from wing attack to centre and Josephine Nailumu from wing defence to goal defence. It worked, and Fiji won the quarter 18-16. The halftime score was 29-26 in favour of Scotland.
Fiji however couldn’t maintain their strong performance before halftime with Scotland continuing to capitalise on their opponents’ mistakes. The Scottish shooters then made sure of every opportunity presented to them in the circle and closed out the match with a comfortable win.
Scottish captain Claire Maxwell was delighted with the win.
“We’ve been a bit disappointed this competition so far, we’ve been almost there playing some good matches. So to grind out a 60-minute performance is really good. We stayed with our processes for longer, our error rate was fairly low and defensively we won a lot of ball.”
Fiji goal attack Unaisi Rauluni said her side didn’t play as well as they wanted to.
“It hasn’t been that great. We struggled in the mid-court area and this is something that we need to work on.”
Q2: 26-29 (18-16)
Q3: 39-45 (13-16)
Q4: 46-62 (7-17)
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Niamh McCall (Scotland)
Helen Housby and Ash Brazill: Helen Housby of England and Ash Brazill of Australia during the Netball World Cup 2023, Pool F match between Australia and England at Cape Town International Convention Centre Court 1 on August 03, 2023 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Netball World Cup 2023)