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Commonwealth Games: Day three as told by our stars

England may have brought football home but day three of the Commonwealth Games saw the Home Nations square off on the netball court.

Eighth in the world took on ninth with Wales emerging victorious 48-42 over Scotland while fellow Home Nation Northern Ireland couldn’t hang on as Malawian Vitality Netball Superleague stars Joyce Mvula and Towera Vinkhumbo bossed it at either ends of the court. 

Lika Malawi and Wales, South Africa and Uganda secured their first win of the Games, the Proteas with a comprehensive 91-36 win over Barbados, while Mary Cholhok powered Uganda to a 62-28 win against Trinidad & Tobago. 

Here is day three as told by our VNSL stars: 

Home Nations continue to serve the drama 

Wales withstood a late fightback from a misfiring Scotland to get their first win of the tournament, establishing a 26-15 lead at half-time which the Thistles came close to chasing down.

Scotland scored 14 goals to Wales’ seven in the final quarter but could not complete the comeback with Wasps’ Iona Christian criticising their slow start, but enjoying the tussle with Celtic Dragons’ Nia Jones and clubmate Ella Powell-Davies.

She said: “It’s always tough coming up against Nia and I hope she thinks the same about me, it was a good battle, very physical. We give each other as much as it gets.

“It was absolutely incredible to have the support from not just Scotland fans but neutral netball fans they really got behind us at the end of the game, that atmosphere was absolutely insane. 

“We definitely had the momentum at the end of the game, it is a shame it wasn’t a longer game but that is our fault for giving ourselves too big a gap to catch up.

“It was quite funny playing against teammates that I have been playing with all season but it’s always good to come up against people you know. The netball world is a small world so it is nice to play against those guys.” 

Nia Jones had a similar reaction as she skippered her side to a famous victory on the world stage, with plenty of Celtic Dragons in the Wales squad and several regular VNSL opponents featuring for Scotland. 

She said: “I think it helps that we play against a lot of the Scottish guys every week, we also play with Hannah Leighton at centre so you know each other’s strengths but also you think how you can exploit each other from playing against each other as well from the season that we have had.  

“It is always a great contest at tournaments like this. You never really know how it is going to go because nerves can affect people in different ways and lots of players haven’t played in that type of atmosphere. We were confident in our experience and I am chuffed with our performance.” 

Northern Ireland v Malawi puts VNSL front and centre 

Mvula had a Manchester Thunder reunion yesterday against England and had another familiar face staring back at her when Malawi took on Northern Ireland. 

Departing Thunder mid-courter Caroline O’Hanlon was pulling the strings for the Warriors as captain and starting centre and was full of praise for her teammate. 

She said: “Joyce [Mvula] is phenomenal. That shows their strength in depth when they can take her off and put [Mwai] Kumwenda in to shooter.

“We had it tactically spot on and were there or thereabouts. At half-time we were right in it, probably a couple of errors just before half-time let the gap open up a little bit.  

“We really need to look at our third quarter, it was really disappointing. We tactically had started really well and were right in it but the third quarter, errors all over cost us.  

“It’s always a privilege to play for Northern Ireland and every time you go out on court you want to set the standard and lead from the front. That’s my role. It’s a really good bunch of girls who step up every time and it’s an honour to be alongside them.” 

Uganda and South Africa get on the board

While Malawi had Mvula and Vinkhumbo in action at separate ends, two Vitality Netball Superleague stars battled it out as Loughborough Lightning’s SheCrane Mary Cholhok came up against Celtic Dragons and Trinidad & Tobago captain Shaquanda Greene-Noel. 

Cholhok was on fire at goal shooter for Uganda, making 88% of her 32 attempts and also providing five assists. 

Greene-Noel put in a leader’s performance making nine gains, four intercepts and two deflections as they battled to defeat. 

For South Africa, Cholhok’s Lightning teammate Zanele Vimbela was a defensive rock as they limited Barbados’ attacking exploits. 

Vimbela put in two intercepts and three deflections as she played all 60 minutes, while Saracens Ine-Mari Venter made use of her 15 minutes of court, scoring 14 goals from 16 attempts. 

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