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Superleague stars shine on day four of the Vitality Netball World Cup

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com - 15/07/2019 - Netball - Vitality Netball World Cup 2019 - Northern Ireland v Malawi - M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool, England - Joanna Kachilika of Malawi and Caroline O'Hanlon of Northern Ireland.

The fourth day of the 2019 Vitality Netball World Cup saw Preliminaries Stage Two get underway at the M&S Bank Arena, which hosted another enticing day of world-class netball.

We continued to keep an eye out for the 32 Vitality Netball Superleague stars competing in the highly anticipated tournament. Here’s your roundup for the day:

Session 7:

Group F: Zimbabwe 36-79 New Zealand

Monday began with the news that Adelaide Muskwe (Severn Stars) would be making her Vitality Netball World Cup debut after being an unused substitute in the wins against Sri Lanka and Northern Ireland as well as the loss to Australia.

The 20-year-old goal defence was handed the unenviable task of marshalling the Silver Ferns attack but she started the embryonic stages of this encounter brightly, allowing her side to remain in touching distance of the four-time winners in the first five minutes.

Muskwe was replaced at the end of the at the end of the second quarter as the favourites began to pull away, leading by 22 goals at half-time. The remaining two quarters continued in a similar vein as New Zealand ran out 36-79 winners.

Muskwe said: “It was exciting to get on court today, especially against New Zealand. They have some of the greatest players in the world and you definitely learn a lot against these big teams.

“As a team, we just wanted to do our best and work hard, give it 110%. That’s what we did today.”

Group F: Northern Ireland 43-47 Malawi

The Vitality Netball Superleague trio of Saracens Mavericks’ Michelle Drayne, Manchester Thunder’s Caroline O’Hanlon and London Pulses’ Fionnuala Toner have all formed part of Northern Ireland’s starting seven for three consecutive matches.

All three impressed in the excruciating defeat to Zimbabwe the day before – with Drayne and O’Hanlon registering 37 goal assists between them – and each was keen to make amends against Malawi, who have Manchester Thunder’s Joyce Mvula and London Pulse’s Loreen Ngwira in their ranks.

The ever-impressive Mvula was on fire and helped her side to a 9-12 win in the first quarter. The goal shooter ended the encounter with a shot accuracy of 96.7%, scoring 30. Northern Ireland did well to reduce the deficit by winning the second quarter and drawing the third, but could not quite catch the Queens.

Michelle Drayne said: “I’m just gutted that we didn’t get over the line. We were two goals down in the last quarter and we fully believed we could have won it.

“We had a patch where they pulled ahead and we pulled it back closer. Unfortunately, at those clinical moments, we either didn’t score the goal or there was a wayward pass.

Group F: Australia 91-22 Barbados

After a sumptuous score of 99 yesterday, there was no sign of Australia taking their foot off the pedal when they took on Barbados. The Diamonds were ruthless in attack and defensively solid, allowing Barbados just 30 attempts, in this formidable display. The Australia squad was heavily rotated throughout this clash as they won all four quarters in convincing fashion, ensuring that all 12 members of the team received some court time ahead of their game with Malawi tomorrow.

Group E: Sri Lanka 88-50 Singapore

After losing all three of their previous matches, Sri Lanka and Singapore came head-to-head on Court Two looking to finally kickstart their Vitality Netball World Cup campaign. The Sri Lankans quickly showed what they were capable of as they clinically peeled away from Singapore, leading by 23 at half-time. Tharjini Sivalingam stole the show with her 97.4% shooting accuracy, getting 76 of her side’s 88 goals, the most by any individual in a single game at the tournament so far, to help secure her country’s first win in Liverpool.

Session 8:

Group E: Fiji 54 – 55 Samoa

In one of the closest matches of the Vitality Netball World Cup so far, Samoa claimed the victory in day four after a nail-biting encounter with fellow pacific islanders Fiji. A last second goal that was disallowed unfortunately prevented Fiji from claiming anything but a loss meaning they are still yet to record a win in the competition.

An emotional Dee Bolakoro (Celtic Dragons): “The support has been amazing. They’ve been there from the first day until today and it’s been lovely seeing the supporters. Even though we haven’t won any matches, they are still there and that has kept us going. I know we lost but we did a lot of good things out there. Saying that, we wanted to win that game and I feel devastated.”

Group G: Vitality Roses 56-48 Jamiaca

Despite the faultless shooting of Jhaniele Fowler, the Vitality Roses produced an exceptional third quarter which powered them towards a 56-48 victory.

The Roses started quickly, finding an 8-2 lead in the initial stages but Jamaica were never far behind and with Fowler excelling the Sunshine Girls got back to within a single goal. By the end of the first quarter the Roses had restored a two-goal cushion – 14-12.

The atmosphere inside the M&S Bank Arena went up a notch as the teams re-entered the court for the second quarter, and Eboni Usoro-Brown (Team Bath Netball) – making her 100th international appearance – responded with a great piece of defending to win back possession for the hosts. The Sunshine Girls took the lead for the first time since the opening stages with five minutes of the half remaining, but wonderful work by first Serena Guthrie (Team Bath) then Geva Mentor wrestled momentum back for the Roses.

Via improved shooting from Jo Harten and one particularly impressive piece of play from Jade Clarke (Wasps Netball), though, the Roses again began to build a lead in the third quarter. Sloppy play from Jamaica and increased space in the circle for Harten and Housby saw England race into a 36-44 lead at the end of the quarter, a period of the game which would turn out to be decisive.

The Roses came out of the blocks fastest in the final quarter, with three goals, but the Sunshine Girls matched that almost instantly; the speed at which the Jamaicans transitioned play showed their remaining belief that they could still overturn the deficit.

However, the irrepressible Guthrie seemed forever on hand to quash Jamaican hopes, finding turnover ball in seemingly impossible situations.

She and her team-mates were applauded off by a rapturous Liverpool crowd at the final whistle, after their 58-46 edged them closer to the semi-finals and put Jamaica’s final four hopes in real doubt.

Eboni Usoro-Brown commented on her season with Team Bath Netball: “This was one of my most enjoyable seasons at Team Bath. Having the likes of Serena Guthrie there and Kim Commane, we had a lot of leadership and I think if you look at this England team most of us are captains or vice captains in our domestic teams. I think it’s that commanding presence, that voice that belief that we can spur each other that is allowing us to grow from game to game.

I’m hoping that the sell-out crowds here really build into next year’s Superleague season. The support here is absolutely fantastic and you can see the commitment that the spectators are now making to netball so hopefully they’ll come to the next Superleague games, continue to show up, tune in and we’ll get more coverage across all of the media channels on print on broadcast and let’s take this game hopefully to a professional level.”

Group G: Trinidad & Tobago 54 – 57 Uganda

Celtic Dragons star Kalifa McCollin took to the court as part of Trinidad & Tobago’s starting seven and remained on point shooting 100% for all four quarters. Despite staying hot on Uganda’s heels throughout the closely contested game, Loughborough Lightning’s Mary Nuba Cholock and her fellow Ugandan team mates remained in the driving seat.

The Uganda She Cranes secured their third win out four so far in the Vitality Netball World Cup.

Mary Nuba Cholock commented on the result and support from their fans in the crowd: “It was a very hard game. Everyone was really hard on each other and we really tried our best.

“The support is really, really superb. There are 50 fans but they really give us the feeling of a home crowd. It’s like the entirety of Uganda are here! We are really proud to have the Ugandan supporters here with us.”

Group G: South Africa 66-38 Scotland

South Africa continued with their unbeaten run on day 4 with a comfortable win over Scotland. The two captains, both playing centre are no strangers, going head to head in the Superleague also but it was Bongiwe Msomi of Wasps Netball who ran out victorious over Claire Maxwell’s girls in blue. The match up featured a whopping 15 Vitality Netball Superleague stars including Sigi Burger of Surrey Storm who claimed more court time in her debut world cup after receiving her call up just days before the tournament. Supported by teammate Shadine Van Der Merwe, Sigi recorded an impressive 90% shot rate throughout the match.

Sigi commented on her side’s performance: “Towards the end I rushed my shots and should have stayed focused because in the future in a tough game that could be the winning shot. I’ve just got to mature on those situations and shoot the ones that count.

“It was really fun, I really enjoyed today’s match. My nerves have all gone and I felt like I could be the old Sigi and start to make noise on court again. It really helped seeing familiar faces in the opposition so I felt a lot more comfortable being put into the game situation.”

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

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