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Nicola Smith South Africa Fast 5

Credit ©Michael Bradley.

Leeds Rhinos’ Nicola Smith helped South Africa to a silver medal at the Fast5 Netball World Series in Christchurch with a 34-20 defeat to Australia in the final.

The Vitality Roses just missed out on a place on the podium as they lost to the hosts New Zealand while Uganda finished in fifth place on debut.

The She Cranes enjoyed the upset of the day as they beat out eventual champions Australia in the round-robin stage thanks to some Mary Cholhok heroics.

South Africa strike silver

Smith had the unenviable task of defending against Australia’s star shooters Sophie Garbin and Sophie Dwyer in the gold medal match.

Goal attack Dwyer was kept quiet, scoring only three goals from seven attempts as Garbin scored the brunt of the goals, posting 20, as Australia became champions for the first time with a 34-20 win.

The Proteas added two more group stage wins, to go with their two from the first day, seeing off the hosts 38-37 in their opening game of the day to defeat New Zealand for the first time in Fast 5.

In an all-Africa clash, Smith was on fire as South Africa defeated Uganda 27-22 to confirm their place in the top two.

The goal keeper played all four quarters, making six gains and two interceptions, as a dominant third quarter, which the Proteas won 10-3, put the game out of sight.

The silver medal marks South Africa’s best-ever finish at the Fast5 NWS, with their last medal coming in 2012 when they won bronze.

England just miss out

The Vitality Roses went into the bronze medal match full of confidence as London Pulse’s Zara Everitt skippered England to a third-place finish in the table, two points ahead of opponents New Zealand.

England kicked off the day’s proceedings with a 32-27 defeat of winless Jamaica, with Manchester Thunder’s Lois Pearson the pick of the shooters scoring seven of England’s goals.

The Sunshine Girls had taken a one-goal lead into half-time before England fought back with an 8-3 third quarter, as Team Bath’s Tash Pavelin ended the game with two interceptions.

England lost out 34-28 to Australia having led the first quarter 11-8, Pearson was as strong in defence as she was attack, scoring from all her attempts as well as putting in two interceptions.

In the bronze medal match, England were only four points behind New Zealand heading into the final quarter as the Fast5 Ferns used every decibel of the home crowd to spur them onto victory

Loughborough Lightning’s Emma Thacker nailed every one of her seven attempts on goal to keep England in the game as Leeds Rhinos’ Paige Reed provided five goal assists.

Thacker, Reed, Pearson and Pavelin were all making their England debut at a senior competition, with Taylor McKevitt, Jayda Pechova and Alicia Scholes all also representing England for the first time.

Uganda shine on debut

The She Cranes showed their strength as they ended their first Fast5 NWS in fifth place, stifling Jamaica in the 5th-place play-off to win 32-10.

Mary Cholhok of Loughborough Lightning played two quarters in the final game, helping her side to a commanding 15-5 lead at half time.

Goal shooter Cholhok, who was named Fans’ Player of the Series, was the hero as Uganda pulled off a famous 32-30 victory over Australia, recovering from a slow start that left them 6-2 down after the first quarter.

Cholhok moved Uganda into the lead with a two-point goal late in the third period before scoring the four-point winner with eight seconds left on the clock to round out a sparkling debut for the She Cranes.

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