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One week into the Netball World Cup: Who has impressed the most?

Welcome back to the Netball World Cup x Netball Super League (NSL) updates blog, where you can keep on top of all that’s going on in Cape Town! In this article, you will find score updates, standout players and much more. Come back daily to read about your NSL stars!


Australia vs England:

It was a big start for the Vitality Roses this morning when they faced the Australian Diamonds. Three NSL athletes and one future NSL star represented the Roses, that of Team Bath’s Imogen Allison starting at Centre, Nat Metcalf of Manchester Thunder in the wing attack position, Layla Guscoth from Surrey Storm in the goal defence position and future Leeds Rhino Geva Mentor in at goal keeper. Amazing tracking from the English defence saw them pick up multiple turnovers, which lead to England take an early lead. Allison took two flying interceptions which flew down the court where Helen Housby and Eleanor Cardwell converted. Funmi Fadoju of London Pulse was brought on half way through the first quarter, to add some fresh legs to the game and allow Guscoth to see the Aussie attacking movement from the sideline. The first 15 minutes ended with England taking an interception to allow another goal to the board, 12-15.

A strong second quarter for both teams – England saw a couple of unforced errors which meant that Australia would capitalise on these mistakes and inch just one goal ahead. The English attacking unit were using circle rotations and triangle set ups to allow themselves space to run in and go wide on their circle entry. The Diamonds stepped up their game, hunting for every ball and challenging every pass. The Vitality Roses defence pushed the Aussie attack to their limits, but the Diamonds were just too clinical in their passes and set ups. Going into half time, the score was 32-26.

London Pulse’s Jade Clarke kicked off the second half, taking their first centre pass straight to goal. Fran Williams of Loughborough Lightning was now in the goal defence position, coupled with Fadoju. Williams, known for chasing down balls and hunting at every opportunity, certainly started off strong in doing so. A few contact calls for England higher up in the Aussie attacking third meant that the Diamonds had more space and opportunity to get the ball into the circle. Housby with a turnover on the Diamond’s goal third allowed England to take the ball to the circle edge, with Metcalf waiting patiently to feed her shooters the ball. Chelsea Pitman took to court in the final three minutes of the quarter, hoping to inject some fresh vision and new perspective into the team. With England winning the third quarter, 13-18, the Vitality Roses went into the final quarter trailing by one, 45-44. A big final quarter for both sides was about to come.

An early interception for Housby in the opening minute of the final 15, England saw this as an opportunity to draw level and took it. This game was a battle until the end. With both teams having already secured a place in the semi-final, this game would decide who they would face on Saturday. Williams took an interception from the Diamonds attacking end, which allowed Pitman to float effortlessly down the court and into Cardwell. Allison with another huge interception – the crowd and the bench went wild, making it quite clear who they wanted to be victorious. A big knock from Australian’s Jamie Lee-Price to Clarke, gave her a caution but gave Clarke more fire in her belly. Liana Leota, Head Coach of Leeds Rhinos signalled to her players to be calm, which they fully embraced as Australia let a ball go off the sideline. Back and forth into the hands of Australia and England, interceptions galore, goals galore. A HUGE interception from Williams in the last 20 seconds saw England take the win by one goal, 55-56. The first time in history that England have beaten Australia at a Netball World Cup.

Wales vs Trinidad and Tobago:

A Wales side stacked with NSL talent took to the court in Cape Town this morning. Celtic Dragons’ duo Georgia Rowe (goal shooter) and Philippa Yarranton (goal attack) lined up with Team Bath’s Bethan Dyke (wing attack) in the attacking end, while Dragons’ Clare Jones donned the centre bib. Leeds Rhinos’ Nia Jones started at wing defence, with Dragons’ Ella Powell-Davies at goal defence and Saracen’s Mavericks’ Christina Shaw at goal keeper. For Trinidad & Tobago, Dragons’ Shaquanda Greene-Noel started play at goal defence in what was set to be highly contested match.

The Welsh Feathers started well, with Georgia Rowe netting some key early goals and the defence hunting early in the match to challenge their opponents physically and psychologically, creating a lot of pressure. Dyke and Yarranton were able to work the ball through the mid-court cleanly, create triangles around the circle and feed Rowe well. At the end of the first quarter Wales led 18-14.

Trinidad & Tobago were determined to build the intensity in the second quarter, with Greene-Noel marking her Dragons’ teammate Rowe extremely tightly. The body-on-body opened up opportunities for the Calypso Girls who kept the Feathers goal for goal in the second quarter, leading to a half time score of 32-28. Looking for some changes in the defence, the Feathers moved Powell-Davis to GK to solidify the back and look to transition out of defence with the help of Captain Jones. With a handful of key turnovers, and some unforced errors from Trinidad & Tobago, the Feathers were able to start opening up the lead. Ensuring they kept patient in possession and making sensible choices with the ball, Q3 ended 53-39 to Wales.

The final quarter saw a comeback from the Calypso Girls, who delivered a fantastic 20 turnovers throughout the game to create opportunity for the attack. Rowe took to the bench part way through the final quarter, with Dragons’ Zoe Matthewman at GA working with Nansi Kuti to get Wales over the line and give Greene-Noel a new challenge to think about. Trinidad & Tobago delivered a strong final quarter fight, finding a new momentum and smoother passages of play, losing the quarter by a single goal. With impressive shooting stats for both teams – Wales at 93% accuracy and Trinidad & Tobago at 90% – Wales’ 54% possession helped them to secure the win at 70-55 and secure a place in the 9th / 10th playoff on Saturday.

Fiji vs Scotland:

With both teams coming off the back of a rest day, the race to get into the 9th/10th play off was well and truly on. Emma Barrie of Strathclyde Sirens kicked off the scoring for the Thistles. Celtic Dragons centre, Hannah Leighton stepped her foot on the gas from the word go… her speed bringing the ball down court after tipping an interception was so fast, we lost track of her on screen. Manchester Thunder’s Iona Christian, a player who has stood out amongst the rest this tournament, started in the wing attack position, adding her movement and vision to the court. The Scottish defence which featured Sirens’ Emily Nicholl, worked tirelessly to turn over the ball in the Fiji attacking end, already making four turnovers in the first quarter. The Thistles picked up the pace, with Scotland’s most capped player Claire Maxwell providing her team with a lot of energy. With Fiji’s shooting being on top form, the Thistles defence needed to work harder to try and shut down their attacking unit before they entered the circle. Bethan Goodwin from Sirens entered the court with five minutes of the first half to go. Dancing around the shooting circle, she settled in with ease and sunk her first few shots. After 30 minutes of netball, the score heading into half time was 26-29.

The second half was so intense – the Fiji side were fighting for a comeback. The song heard from the crowd was just beautiful, spurring on the Fiji side. Scotland were continuing to hold onto their lead though, with Goodwin and McCall working hard in attack to shoot solidly and add more goals to the board. With the 9/10th play off opponent set to be Wales, Scotland were looking at competing against another home nation. Maxwell moved to centre for the final 15 minutes and what a difference she made. Leighton now in at wing attack, the duo ensured their shooters were comfortable in their range, assisting on the circle edge when needed. Christian’s feeds continued to blossom as they flew effortlessly into the circle. The bench and coaching staff seemed elated with their performance. As the clock ran down, it looked to be Scotland who came out on top, winning 46-62 and going on to face Wales in the play offs.

South Africa vs Uganda 

A highly-anticipated contest between Africa’s two strongest nations carried an electric atmosphere from the first whistle in Cape Town this afternoon. For hosts South Africa, two NSL players were included in the starting seven: Saracens Mavericks’ Ine-Mari Venter at goal shooter and Manchester Thunder’s Shadine van der Merwe at wing defence. Venter was straight off the mark from the opening whistle, with flawless shooting and teamwork with goal attack Talliard to get South Africa off to a great start.

With the Ugandan and South African fans out in force, this was set to be a game to remember. Meanwhile for the She Cranes, Loughborough Lightning’s Mary Cholhok was an instant force to be reckoned with at goal shooter. Taking the majority of the shots, she worked seamlessly with Irene Eyaru, as they have throughout the tournament so far, to draw the defence and enable Mary to take the ball under the post as much as possible. At the end of the first quarter, the Proteas’ led 16-11.The Proteas started off strong, taking their first centre pass to goal as well as picking up several turnovers and converting. Van der Merwe was formidable in defence, linking up with her goal keeper to keep the target of Cholhok out. Uganda remained calm however as they did not let this early lead faze them. Their timing of ball delivery was executed perfectly as well as the transitions through court when interceptions had been made. South Africa maintained their lead going into half time, 33-19.

The second half was outstanding. Goals galore for Uganda meant that South Africa needed to up their game in defence. Uganda were on fire. Creating opportunities to turnover ball which paid off successfully which lead them to winning the third quarter 8-17. With Cholhok shooting at 100%, she was not to be messed with. Uganda pulled the score back, giving South Africa something to work for. Two African nations going head to head really hyped the crowd as they got behind their teams. With the score now level, either team had to pull something out of the bag to get that lead. Unforced errors became Uganda’s downfall as South Africa capitalised on these, scoring at any given opportunity. With South Africa now running down the clock to waste time, they only just managed the win 52-50.

Tonga vs Malawi:

The final game of the pool stages. Towera Vinkhumbo of Strathclyde Sirens was the player to watch in this match as her performance so far in this tournament has been outstanding. With Malawi currently ranked sixth in the world and Tonga ranked seventh, it was truly going to be a spectacle of netball. With Vinkhumbo in at goal defence, the Tongan attacking unit were about to see what she was made of as straight away, she hit the ground running with tips and turnovers galore. The Malawi Queens also set the tone with their shooting, with Kumwenda showing her confidence with shooting from distance. A fan and commentator favourite Lwazi donning the centre bib for Malawi, her speed in the centre court worked in their favour. However, Tonga were adding goals to the board on the quiet; keeping their centre pass and taking interceptions when it counted. The first half ended, 26-31.

The second half was played to the theme tune of Tonga’s song – the fans singing beautifully to praise their players as they graced the court. With Vinkhumbo now in the goal keeper position for Malawi, her opponent, netball legend Cat Tuvaiti, certainly put up a fight against her. Tuvaiti’s skills still impress us no matter how many times we watch her play. Her flare and skill range is just ridiculous and one that has helped Tonga so far this tournament. With Tonga’s defence working hard against Joyce Mvula and Kumwenda in the Malawi attacking end, their commitment to win ball was second to none. Unfortunately, due to a tough challenge, Kumwenda was brought off court due to an injury. A few challenging calls in the final quarter saw Malawi give it everything they had. The game was played right until the final whistle where we saw Malawi come out on top, 51-56.

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