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Netball World Cup: It’s Semi-Final Day

Welcome back to the penultimate 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!

Fixtures:

Fiji vs Trinidad & Tobago:

With Celtic Dragons’ Shaquanda Greene-Noel starting on the bench for T&T, she cheered her team on for the majority of the first half. You may have seen the news yesterday in which Greene-Noel announced she was stepping back from the NSL and national duties to focus on her family and studies; her presence and talent will be missed in our league but we wish her all the best for her future. A slow start for T&T saw Fiji get the upper hand in the first half, picking up on the oppositions mistakes and scoring off them. However, T&T did have some moments of magic as their high balls into their shooting circle meant their goal shooter would land under the post with ease. Greene-Noel came onto court and made an impact straight away; holding her shooter high in the circle to stop those high balls going over. Fiji were quick with their passing, minimising the number of passes it takes to get to their shooting circle from their centre pass. The score going into half time was 34-15.

The second 30 minutes saw Greene-Noel move back to the bench but she was not shy in showing that she was still present on the sideline, encouraging her teammates and cheering every small win. The T&T attacking unit found their flow, gaining more confidence with every pass. However, Fiji’s defence were working hard, so hard that the ball was not entering the Calypso Girls’ attacking third. With the ball teetering back and forth between teams, it was Fiji who broke free and went on a goal scoring spree. Their ball speed was just too fast for T&T as it was fired from one end to the other, with their vision being crystal clear. T&T’s defence continued to hustle, but Fiji’s shooter were just on the front hold, too strong. The game concluded with Fiji securing 11th place, 71-37, and Trinidad and Tobago finishing 12th.

England vs New Zealand:

Semi final one… all to play for. Following England’s historic win over Australia in the final preliminary stage two game, New Zealand were the Vitality Roses next battle in the semi finals. A starting line up including Manchester Thunder and England Co-Captain Nat Metcalf in wing attack, Imogen Allison from Team Bath at centre, future Leeds Rhino Geva Mentor at goal keeper and other Co-Captain and Surrey Storm athlete Layla Guscoth in goal defence. A strong start for the Roses saw their first centre pass go straight to goal. A huge defensive push from Mentor and Guscoth saw an early turnover for England, but New Zealand’s centre Kate Heffernan won the ball straight back, taking the ball back to her shooting circle. The Silver Ferns’ goal keeper Kelly Jury did well to apply pressure to England’s Eleanor Cardwell by allowing the Vitality Roses to force the high balls into the circle. The first quarter ended with a draw, 9-9, going into the second quarter with nothing separating either team.

Quarter two saw no changes for either side, with skipper Metcalf executing a beautiful roll off her defender, Karin Burger. Allison’s work in her unit defence forced errors from the Silver Ferns, making them attack only one side down the court. The link up in the English attacking unit between Metcalf and Helen Housby was beautiful, with Metcalf offering Housby the 1-2’s on the circle edge, passing between each other until Housby was comfortable to shoot. Another tip from Guscoth meant that England’s pace quickened as they reacted to the turnover with intent. The ball floated down court, landing in Cardwell’s hands and into the net. Going into half time, there was still nothing to split these two teams apart, 20-20.

London Pulse’s Jade Clarke joined the court after half time, adding some more depth into England’s attacking unit. Mentor and Guscoth continued to work hard in England’s defence, pushing the New Zealand shooters to the very edge of the three second rule. With England’s centre pass to goal rate keeping high, the possession in game also went in England’s favour too, with the Vitality Roses having 53% possession. Loughborough Lightning’s Fran Williams made an appearance at goal keeper in the final five minutes of the third quarter; coming off the back of an amazing performance against Australia on Thursday, Williams was back to fight for more ball and win more turnovers. With STILL nothing separating these two teams, the score going into the final quarter was 32-32. A huge final quarter was about to happen.

Allison returned to court in the final 15 minutes of the match. Her vision down court and pace following a pass allowed England to surge forward. The fans behind both teams, cheering every turnover, shot and pass made by their side was heard loud and clear, by the players and everyone at home. With three minutes to go on the clock, Williams made a crucial turnover for the Roses, finding Housby under the post with yet another goal to her name. Bodies on the line in the final two minutes saw Allison with another turnover for England, taking it down the court. Metcalf assisted the feed into the circle with Cardwell adding another English goal to the board. England with the many turnovers in the dying seconds, they raced ahead, going on to win the match and make history, 46-40.

Scotland vs Wales:

A home nation 9th/10th play off… a what a game it was. With all of Scotland’s starting seven featuring in the NSL, (Rachel Conway, GK, Strathclyde Sirens, Emily Nicholl, GD, Sirens, Hannah Leighton, WD, Celtic Dragons, Claire Maxwell, C, Sirens, Iona Christian, WA, Manchester Thunder, Niamh McCall, GA, Sirens, Bethan Goodwin, GS, Sirens) they were ready to face the Welsh Feathers. Another all star NSL line up for the Welsh Feathers, (Christina Shaw, GK, Saracens Mavericks, Ella Powell-Davies, Dragons, Nia Jones, WD, Leeds Rhinos, Clare Jones, C, Dragons, Bethan Dyke, WA, Team Bath, Phillipa Yarranton, GA, Dragons, Georgia Rowe, GS, Dragons) who were ready to battle for this win.

Wales had the first centre pass, with Nia Jones assisting from the back. The ball founds its way straight into the Welsh shooting circle, with Rowe getting the first goal on the board. The Scottish Thistles retaliated by taking three passes to goal, Goodwin sealing the deal. With both teams proving their physicality, it was Scotland who broke away first, finding an opportunity from Wales’ unforced errors to score. However, Wales were quick to retaliate and fight back, leaving no stone unturned when trying for intercepts. The smart play of McCall saw the ball roll closer to the net so she could position herself closer. The Welsh Feathers saw a run of goals, picking up tips and turnovers as well as keeping their own centre passes. The shooter to shooter connection between Rowe and Yarranton has blossomed in this tournament and it was showing tonight too; their passes between each other in the circle gave one another the perfect opportunity to score from where comfortable. The score going into half time was 21-25.

The second half saw each team come back onto court with fire in their belly, wanting to win this game for their country. Emma Barrie of Sirens came onto court, her height adding some more depth to the Scottish shooting circle. Christian moved to centre, allowing her speed to open up the court for her other attackers to pull through. However, the Welsh defence saw the space that the Thistles were running to, zoning it and picking up the ball when it was loose on the court. Body on body contact throughout the court saw everyone fight for the ball, whether that be in the air or with their feet on the ground. Cerys Cairns from Sirens made her way onto court into the goal shooter position while Wales was holding onto their starting seven, clearly working for their side. As the clock counted down, the battle of the home nations was well and truly over, as Wales claimed the victory and 9th place in the tournament, 42-57.

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