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The final day of the Netball World Cup… what happened?

Welcome back to the final 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:

Malawi vs Tonga:

The battle for 7th/8th place was well and truly on for both sides. With Tonga showing the world what they were made of this tournament, they were out here again this morning giving their all against Malawi. Strathclyde Sirens defender Towera Vinkhumbo started in the goal defence position for Malawi, strengthening their defence inside and outside the circle. Both sides started off strong, going goal for goal in the opening minutes; each team shooting strong and keeping their own centre passes. However, it was Malawi who broke away first, collecting a rebound from a Tongan shot and taking it all the way down court. The remainder of the first half was physical and end to end action. Tonga tried to claw their way back from their deficit but Malawi held them off going into the second half, 33-29.

The second 30 minutes was a real spectacle of netball with both teams pushing themselves and each other until the very end. Malawi were very body on body against their defenders, running into the circle and posting up against their opposition. Again, with both teams going goal for goal, the need for someone to break away to get that bigger margin was needed. Tonga had stepped up – their shooting accuracy was fantastic, even with applied pressure from Vinkhumbo. The final push however came from Malawi as their fight to win ball and win the game was immense. They went on to win the game and take 7th position, 64-54.

South Africa vs Uganda:

A final run out for the host nation against a fierce Ugandan side – one in which they played only the other day. Mary Cholhok of Loughborough Lightning started in the goal shooter position for the She Cranes; a real stalwart of the sport, Mary has had a stellar year so far, winning the Super League just two months ago with her Lightning family and now representing her country for a potential fifth place finish at the World Cup. Her tall physique stood strong in the circle in the first half, giving Uganda something to work towards. Combined with her movement, Mary really did give South Africa a headache in this first half. With South Africa still not on the board after five minutes of play, Uganda showed them they were tougher than they thought. Manchester Thunder’s Shadine Van der Merwe was on the bench for South Africa, alongside Saracens MavericksIne-Mari Venter, encouraging their team in every pass and shot they made. South Africa continuously forced Uganda back to their defensive line to recycle the ball as they were struggling to get to their circle edge. The first half ended with nothing separating either team, 23-23.

A toe to toe second half. South Africa gave everything with Uganda fighting back. Cholhok was formidable in Uganda’s shooting circle, sitting at 95% shooting stats. The She Cranes managed to win ball several times in the South African attacking end, only for it to be turned over again by the SPAR Proteas. The noise from the crowd was through the roof, cheers for both sides getting louder and louder. The physicality of the game also increased as both teams were putting their bodies on the line to win this match. The final few minutes saw interceptions, shots and turnovers galore, with Uganda coming out on top and securing 5th place, winning 47-49.

England vs Australia – THE FINAL:

1 hour, 60 minutes, 3,600 seconds. One last dance… that’s all it was.

The Vitality Roses had already made history by making their first ever Netball World Cup final, now it was time to re-write that history once more. An unchanged starting line up for the Vitality Roses saw four NSL athletes take to the court against the Australian Diamonds. Future Leeds Rhino, Geva Mentor started in the goal keeper position, partnered with Surrey Storm and England’s Co-Captain Layla Guscoth in at goal defence. Team Bath’s Imogen Allison started in the middle at centre with other Co-Captain and Manchester Thunder star Nat Metcalf in at wing attack.

Quarter one – An early turnover for Australia following England’s centre pass showed the nerves of the Roses in the first few minutes. Allison worked their next centre pass to goal, feeing Eleanor Cardwell beautifully on the circle edge. The strong drives from Metcalf from the centre third to the circle edge allowed Helen Houbsy to rotate around the circle edge, seeing the opportunity to feed to Allison and play the 1-2 pass. Mentor and Guscoth continued to work hard in the defensive end, missing interceptions by fingertips. Fran Williams from Loughborough Lightning made her way onto court, replacing Layla Guscoth in the goal defence position. A tip from Mentor in the Diamond’s shooting circle saw the ball glide down the court. Bodies already on the line saw a clash between Australia’s Courtney Bruce and Housby with both ending up on the floor. A huge interception from Allison allowed England to put another goal on the board, bringing the score level. However, the Diamonds structure was too polished and they turned over the Roses centre pass. England then retaliated and equalised in the dying seconds of the first quarter, going into the second, 13-13.

Quarter two – With no changes to either team, the Vitality Roses kicked off the second quarter by scoring straight off their centre pass. With both teams’ defence stepping up their game, the Roses lost possession in their shooting circle with Australia taking a tip down to their attacking end. A lot of back and forth play for the English team meant they took their time in taking the ball down to the attacking end; recycling the ball all the way back to the defence. Another shot sunk by Eleanor Cardwell saw England bring the scoreline back to within two. Williams with a roll around interception meant that England had time to settle the ball and take it down to their attacking unit to put another away. A new shooting duo for Australia of Kiera Austin and Sophie Garbin gave the English defence something to think about. With Bruce making another turnover for the Diamonds, this pushed Australia ahead by four, going into the half time break, 23-27.

Quarter three – A few changes to the Vitality Roses side saw Guscoth come back to the court in the goal defence position with the addition of London Pulse’s Funmi Fadoju in the goal keeper spot. Allison was moved to wing defence. Housby and Cardwell swapped, with Housby now staying in the circle and Cardwell free to roam the court. After five minutes, Mentor returned to court in the goal keeper spot, challenging Garbin on every shot. Chelsea Pitman from London Pulse exploded onto court, giving England the fresh legs they needed, applying extra pressure on the Australian centre pass and providing another option on the circle edge. With Australia upping settling and cutting their errors, they raced ahead in this third quarter going into the final 15 minutes, 36-46.

Quarter four – Fadoju returned to court in the goal defence position, going out with the desire to hunt for ball in the centre court. A Pitman turnover in the centre third found Cardwell home alone under the post. Imogen Allison threw her body quite literally over the line as she made yet another incredible intercept for the Vitality Roses. The Diamonds proved just a bit too strong for the Vitality Roses today; they came back for revenge after the England win on Thursday. England still battled right until the very end, continuing to challenge every ball and take every shot, even if from distance. The final whistle blew, Australia with the win, 45-61. However, all is not lost as England still made history by winning that Silver medal and making it into the final for the first time ever. A huge empowering moment for the Vitality Roses and women’s sport as a whole.

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