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Superleague stars finish with a flourish on the final day of the Vitality Netball World Cup

Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com - 21/07/2019 - Netball - Vitality Netball World Cup 2019 bronze medal match - England v South Africa - M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool, England - Joanne Harten, Geva Mentor and Rachel Dunn of England celebrate the win.

After 10 days of world-class competition, vibrant crowds and relentless drama, the Vitality Netball World Cup 2019 is over and the 16 nations who participated are left to reflect on what they have accomplished.

32 Vitality Netball Superleague players took to the court inside the M&S Bank Arena and we have been documenting their progress throughout the tournament. Here’s your round-up of the day’s play for the final time from Liverpool:

7th/8th placing match: Zimbabwe 47-58 Uganda

Uganda secured their highest finish at a World Cup with a solid win over debutants Zimbabwe. The She-Cranes placed eighth in 2015 after failing to qualify for the sport’s flagship event for the preceding 36 years and they have gone one better this time around. Loughborough Lightning’s goal-shooter Mary Cholhok missed two of her 17 attempts as former Lightning star Peace Proscrovia faltered uncharacteristically with figures of 26/32.

Severn Stars’ Adelaide Muskwe arrived late on for Zimbabwe, who pushed Uganda for long period but ultimately came out unstuck. They take eighth spot in their first appearance on the world stage and the effervescence of their supporters will be an everlasting memory of a tournament that has thrived as a result of the enthusiasm of all the African countries.

Cholhok said: “Indeed, we are rising, it seems like every nation is going to a new position which is really nice. Although we’re competing with each other, we come from the same nation, Africa, so we keep that bond together.”

5th/6th placing match: Jamaica 68-50 Malawi

Jamaica won all four quarters as they defeated a stubborn Malawi side, who were more competitive than the scoreline might suggest. The Sunshine Girls had loftier ambitions pre-tournament but one of the big five teams had to miss out on a semi-final and they have dealt with the disappointment of that professionally.

Severn Stars’ Jodi-Ann Ward almost completed the full 60 minutes while Celtic Dragons’ Stacian Facey also enjoyed some time on court as Jamaica’s defence was somewhat loose under the Malawi pressure. They were alleviated by the phenomenal shooting of captain Jhaniele Fowler, who achieved an incredible 98.4% accuracy off 54 efforts.

Malawi were battling goal for goal midway through the contest with Manchester Thunder’s Joyce Mvula scoring 23 goals. London Pulse’s Loreen Ngwira recorded more minutes than in any of her previous matches but she could not contain the Jamaicans as they surged to victory.

Mvula said: “We can’t be too happy because we are sixth. That means that there are six teams in front of us. We need to try to beat others in front of us but we will have to work hard to do that.”

Bronze medal match: England 50-46 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.”

Gold medal match: Australia 51-452 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.

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