Category: England

Australia crowned Netball World Cup champions for the 12th time as Jamaica clinch bronze

Australia crowned Netball World Cup champions for the 12th time as Jamaica clinch bronze

Australia reclaimed the Netball World Cup after defeating England 61-45 in the final of the tournament at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Sunday. That saw the Diamonds lifting the trophy, which was presented by South African president Cyril Ramaphosa, for a record-extending 12th time.

Earlier in the evening in the bronze medal playoff, Jamaica defeated New Zealand for the second time in a matter of days to secure their first podium place since 2007.

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - AUGUST 06: Australia celebrate winning the Netball World Cup 2023, final match between England and Australia at Cape Town International Convention Centre, Court 1 on August 06, 2023 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Shaun Roy/Gallo Images/Netball World Cup 2023)

ENGLAND 45 – 61 AUSTRALIA

Having lost out to New Zealand by just one goal in the last Netball World Cup final in Liverpool four years ago, Australia ensured there would be no repeat scenario when they defeated England 61-45 in the final in Cape Town on Sunday.

England were playing in their first ever Netball World Cup final after beating defending champions New Zealand in the semifinal while the Australians were contesting their ninth consecutive gold-medal match, having never finished lower than second in the tournament’s 60-year history.

Australia came out firing to take a two-goal lead after the opening exchanges, Steph Wood proving to be the creative force for the Diamonds on attack early on. England coach Jess Thirlby responded immediately, bringing on Fran Williams for Layla Guscoth at goal defence. The move proved an effective one with the Roses managing to close the gap and equalise at 12-12, but throwing away their opportunity to edge in front while the Australians were doing well to hold onto their possession. There was nothing to separate the teams by the first break, however, as they finished the quarter all square on 13-13.

It was the Diamonds who looked more in control after the break, showing patience to work their way around the England defence. While the Roses continued to work hard on turning ball over, they weren’t always capitalising on those opportunities that had been created, thanks to some solid defence from Jo Weston at goal defence and Courtney Bruce at goalkeeper.

That saw the Diamonds edging ahead and taking a four-goal lead into halftime.

When the sides met on Thursday in their final group game in Cape Town, which England won by one goal, the Australians enjoyed a six-goal lead at halftime and would have been wary of letting that slip again.

True to form, the Diamonds had clearly learned from their mistakes, putting their foot down in the third quarter and looking like they were one step ahead of the Roses throughout. Their connections looked smooth and their confidence was rising, making them even more dangerous on attack. Thirlby continued to make multiple changes to the England lineup, and while there were moments of individual brilliance from the Roses, that did little to slow the flow of Australian goals. Kiera Austin scored as the whistle sounded to ensure her side went into the final break 10 goals up.

That was always going to be an unlikely gap to bridge in just 15 minutes for England who, to their credit, continued to fight until the final whistle. But with the Australians within grasp of the title they last won in 2015, the world’s top-ranked side simply continued to do what they do best, steadily building on their advantage to ensure they lifted the trophy for a record 12th time.

 

SCORES

Q1: 13-13

Q2: 23-27 (10-14)

Q3: 36-46 (13-19)

Q4: 45-61 (9-15)

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Kiera Austin (Australia)

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 29: Mary Cholhok of Uganda during the Netball World Cup 2023, Pool D match between New Zealand and Uganda at Cape Town International Convention Centre Court 1 on July 29, 2023 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Netball World Cup 2023)

NEW ZEALAND 45 – 52 JAMAICA

The Sunshine Girls gave their nation even more to celebrate on Jamaican Independence Day when they defeated five-time champions New Zealand to claim the bronze medal at the Netball World Cup in Cape Town on Sunday.

Jamaica have played in six World Cup bronze medal matches since 1991 and won three of them but all of those victories have come against England. This time they were up against a Silver Ferns side still reeling from a draw against hosts South Africa and then a semifinal defeat at the hands of England.

The Jamaicans were boosted by the fact that they had claimed their first ever Netball World Cup victory over the Silver Ferns three days earlier and on Sunday they were determined to secure their second.

Both teams came out with plenty to prove and the battle was fierce from the start. The Silver Ferns were dealt a blow when wing attack Gina Crampton was helped off the court after rolling her ankle just two and a half minutes into the match. She was replaced by Whitney Souness and the New Zealanders promptly scored three unanswered goals to edge in front.

It was a gap they held onto for much of the opening period before the Jamaicans finally managed to equalise at 10-10. Two excellent intercepts from the Jamaican defence, first goalkeeper Shamera Sterling and then goal defence Jodi-Ann Ward, gave the Sunshine Girls the opportunity to edge ahead. Despite some risky high balls into goal shooter Jhaniele Fowler in the circle, which had cost them in their semifinal loss to Australia, the Jamaicans went into the break three goals up.

Te Paea Selby-Rickit replaced Maiai Wilson at goal shooter for New Zealand at the start of the second quarter while Adean Thomas came on at centre for Jamaica a few minutes later, replacing Nicole Dixon-Rochester. Later in the period New Zealand captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio was also taken off after conceding several turnovers, with Tiana Metuarau taking her place at goal attack.  

It was the defensive units on both sides that ensured there was no real flow achieved for either team. A low-scoring, evenly contested period was the result as Jamaica just held onto their lead heading into the halftime break.

The Jamaicans found their momentum in the third period as New Zealand coach Noeline Taurua rang in several more changes for her side. The Sunshine Girls racked up a run of six unanswered goals to surge ahead and win the championship quarter by three goals.

With a first bronze medal since 2007 within their grasp, the Jamaicans held their nerve to stay out in front in the final quarter to wrap up a 52-45 win and send the defending champions home empty-handed for the first time in Netball World Cup history.

Speaking after the match, a thrilled Jamaican wing attack Khadijah Williams said: “I’m feeling great but I’m not over the performance yesterday [in the semifinal] yet but I’m extremely pleased with today.

“It’s been an extremely difficult eight games in 10 days but I am also extremely grateful and I’m very proud of my teammates.”

New Zealand defender Karin Burger said: “I think it’s amazing to see how far netball has come that there are so many competitive teams out there putting their hands up.

“We put ourselves out there and we have high standards and obviously, this is not good enough. But we are acknowledging the other teams, they have played amazing netball, so big ups to the ones that are going to take that podium. We’ve got work to do and if this is a taste of what the next four years are going to look like, bring it on.”

 

SCORES

Q1: 11-14

Q2: 21-24 (10-10)

Q3: 32-38 (1-14)

Q4: 45-52 (13-14)

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Jodi-Ann Ward (Jamaica)

Final placings at the Netball World Cup 2023:

Gold – Australia

Silver – England

Bronze – Jamaica

04. New Zealand

05. Uganda

06. South Africa

07. Malawi

08. Tonga

09. Wales

10. Scotland

11. Fiji

12. Trinidad & Tobago

13. Zimbabwe

14. Barbados

15. Singapore

16. Sri Lanka

Day 9: England down defending champions to reach first ever Netball World Cup final

England down defending champions to reach first ever Netball World Cup final

England held their nerve to pull off a memorable 46-40 victory over defending champions New Zealand at the Netball World Cup 2023 in Cape Town on Saturday, so booking their place in the gold-medal match for the first time in the tournament’s 60-year history. In the other playoff match of the morning, Fiji defeated Trinidad and Tobago to secure 11th place.

 

ENGLAND 46 – 40 NEW ZEALAND

England and New Zealand met in a Netball World Cup semifinal for a fifth time in Cape Town on Saturday, having also met at the same stage of the competition at the last tournament in Liverpool four years ago.

History favoured the defending champions, with the Silver Ferns having claimed victory in all four of their previous final-four encounters dating back to 1991. But it was the Roses who defied the odds to claim a memorable victory after a fiercely contested encounter, winning 46-40 on a historic day for English netball.

It was a nervous start from both sides, with a few frantic exchanges seeing possession changing hands on several occasions. Plenty of defensive pressure from both sides led to a low-scoring opening period, the momentum swinging both ways before the two sides reached the first break level on 9-9. Things could have looked very different had England not struggled quite as much in the shooting circle, while New Zealand were shooting at 100 per cent at the other end.

England’s impressive defence forced several errors from the Silver Ferns leading to them losing some ground in the second quarter. The Roses edged three goals in front at one stage, but the New Zealanders wouldn’t let them get away, coming back in the final two and a half minutes of the period to deny the Roses while scoring three goals of their own to once again go into the break all square at 20-20. Again, the England shooting average was lower than they would have liked, standing at 73.3 per cent in the second quarter while New Zealand remained at 100 per cent.

The only change to the starting lineups came from England at the start of the third quarter with Jade Clarke, playing in her record-equalling sixth Netball World Cup, coming on at centre for Imogen Allison. Fran Williams came on around 10 minutes later at goal defence, replacing Layla Guscoth, who had done some excellent work in partnership with goalkeeper Geva Mentor in the defensive circle.

A great intercept from Kelly Jury in the circle with three minutes remaining saw New Zealand inching into the lead for the first time in the third quarter. But that lead didn’t last and there was once again nothing between the sides heading into the final break, all square on 32-32.  

Whatever England coach Jess Thirlby said to her side ahead of the final period seemed to spark a fire in them as they came out with more confidence for the final 15 minutes. Allison returned to centre at the start of the period while New Zealand coach Noeline Taurua again stuck with her starting seven. With history beckoning, Williams pulled off a game-changing intercept to give England the edge with just over four minutes remaining and Allison delivered another to hand them all the momentum and surge even further in front. The Roses didn’t look back from there, scoring six goals on the trot at the end of the match to secure the 46-40 victory. With that, they become the first team other than New Zealand, Australia or South Africa to reach the gold-medal match in Netball World Cup history.

England coach Jess Thirlby was understandably thrilled with her team’s performance, saying: “I’m really typically very proud, like I’m a little bit overwhelmed with what the team have just been able to do.

“I think to win a game in that way is the most satisfying feeling… our capability on the court from a technical and tactical point of view, I’ve never questioned that or doubted it. I have 100 per cent belief in it. I think the journey we’ve been on is how to manage ourselves through momentum in games against the best teams playing at their best,” she added.

“What a fantastic showcase by both teams. I thought New Zealand were excellent. They did what we kind of expected and maybe we struggled at times to really overcome that but mentally we stayed with it, and I think to end a game of that nature with a run of six just goes to tell you that you just have to stay in the game and it opened up an attack. Defence got what they needed when we needed it most and that’s really satisfying.”

An emotional Silver Ferns captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio said her side were devastated at not having the chance to defend their title.

“It’s really devastating for us. We’re feeling very heartbroken as well, especially knowing that we were in it for the three quarters and I think we really stood up,” she said. “It’s kind of been a bit of the story for us – that fourth quarter but I thought we had our chances as well in that. I guess it’s the way it goes but we have to get up again tomorrow [for the bronze medal match] and find a way. We’ve got a lot of heart left and we’re not done yet – we’ve got another game.”

 

SCORES

Q1: 9-9

Q2: 20-20 (11-11)

Q3: 32-32 (12-12)

Q4: 46-40 (14-8)

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Fran Williams (England)

 

FIJI 71 – 39 TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

Fiji took on Trinidad and Tobago in the 11th place playoff at the Netball World Cup 2023 in Cape Town already assured of a better finish than their last World Cup appearance in Liverpool four years ago where they finished 14th. A spirited performance saw them claiming a convincing 71-39 win to climb two spots on their previous result.

The Fiji Pearls looked by far the hungrier of the teams as they took to the court, finding their rhythm early to pull away from the Calypso Girls, who seemed to be lacking energy. That saw them 5-1 up within the first five minutes of the match.

With their defenders applying plenty of pressure to turn the ball over, Fiji pounced on all their opportunities to extend that lead. Trinidad and Tobago coach Joel Young-Strong brought on captain Shaquanda Greene-Noel at goalkeeper 10 minutes into the first quarter to replace Daystar Swift, but Fiji continued to score at will, racing ahead to a 17-8 lead by the first break.

Unaisi Rauluni was particularly impressive in the Fiji circle, shooting at an average of 91 per cent in the first half as Fiji continued to rack up the goals in the second quarter to reach halftime 34-15 up.

Trinidad and Tobago came back a little stronger in the third quarter while a host of changes for Fiji meant they lost some of their rhythm. That saw the sides separated by just two goals in the quarter score (Fiji winning it 15-13) but the damage that the Pearls had done in the first half meant they took a 21-goal lead into the final period.

Fiji found more fluidity when Maliana Rusivakula rejoined Rauluni in the circle, the duo working well together to extend the Pearls’ lead even further. As she has done throughout the tournament, coach Unaisi Rokoura continued to ring in the changes in the final minutes of the match but her side kept up the pace, wrapping up a 71-37 win and with that, securing 11th place.

Speaking after the match, an elated Fiji captain, Maria Lutua-Rusivakula, said: “It’s absolutely good. To come out here with a young squad – our aim was to progress from where we left off at the last World Cup and I think everyone really stepped up and put in 100 per cent, so going home, we’re happy that we have progressed from the last time.

“We wanted to finish off on a high. We’ve worked hard and worked strong and wanted to go out with a win so we came out hungry and we said we’re not going to go home without a win, so I think the girls showed that on court today.”

Trinidad and Tobago coach Joel Young-Strong agreed that her players had lacked energy for their final match.

“They really are tired but they should have been doing better than this because we were trained a certain way that when this time at the end comes, we need to step it up. But I think they were also tired mentally,” she said.

“Fiji were hungry. My hats off to Fiji today. We played them in a warm-up and they looked really, really good so we anticipated some great pace, tactics and connections from them, but we failed. It’s alright, it’s all good. We’re going to build from here and come back next time stronger, better and fitter.”

 

SCORES

Q1: 17-8

Q2: 34-15 (17-7)

Q3: 49-28 (15-13)

Q4: 71-37 (22-9)

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Unaisi Rauluni (Fiji)

Day 7: England and Jamaica stun world’s top two as Wales and Scotland win

Day 7: England and Jamaica stun world’s top two as Wales and Scotland win to book ninth-place showdown

England and Jamaica stun world’s top two as Wales and Scotland win to book ninth-place showdown

On a spectacular day of change to the netball world order, England upset 11-time champions Australia and Jamaica stunned defending champions New Zealand at the Netball World Cup in Cape Town. The result meant England finished top of Group F and will most likely meet New Zealand in the semifinal, while Jamaica will play Australia. Despite their loss the Silver Ferns will more than likely still progress to the semifinals, with hosts South Africa faced with the task of beating Uganda by an unrealistic margin in the afternoon match to take their place. In other matches of the morning Wales and Scotland claim victories in their respective games to set up a battle with each other for ninth place.

 

AUSTRALIA 55-56 ENGLAND 

England followed South Africa’s stunning performance against New Zealand on Wednesday with one of their own when they scored their first-ever World Cup victory over 11-time champions Australia at the Netball World Cup 2023 in Cape Town. This is only the eighth time in total that the Roses have managed to beat the Diamonds in any competition since the teams’ first match in 1956.  

It was England goal defence Fran Williams’ brilliant deflection in the final moments that prevented Australia from securing a draw. The win means England finishes top of Pool F with Australia second. Both teams are through to the semifinals which will be contested on Saturday.   

It was England who gained an early advantage with shooters Eleanor Cardwell and Helen Housby capitalising on their opportunities. A late intercept by Funmi Fadoju on goal defence gave England a 15-13 lead at the end of the first quarter. 

Superstar Australian defender Courtney Bruce was substituted by Sarah Klau and she immediately made her impact felt, helping Australia regain ground and overtake England for a 32-26 lead at halftime.  

In the second half, England started chipping away at the Australian lead. 

The third quarter saw changes for both teams, with Williams moving into goal defence for England and Fadoju moving to goalkeeper. For Australia, Jamie-Lee Price replaced Paige Hadley on centre.  

With solid play and key turnovers, England won the third quarter 18-13 and headed into the final 15 minutes of the match just one goal behind Australia.  

The Roses took the lead early in the final quarter with a goal by Cardwell. Australia stayed strong on defence while England remained calm in the pressure cooker situation.  

The match ebbed and flowed in the final minutes, with neither side giving an inch. Ultimately though,  Australia lost pivotal moments throughout the match, handing England the upset victory. 

England goal attack Helen Housby was named Most Valuable Player. She sank all 22 attempts at goal, was involved in 12 goal assists, responsible for six turnovers in general play and grabbed an intercept to boot.  

Australian coach Stacey Marinkovich said her team had their chances and they will have to take a look at how to be more direct.  

“In terms of our discipline, I don’t think we were too bad. There were moments when we had to accumulate pressure a little earlier. Our second quarter was very good in terms of how we were able to get the ball to the shot. It was loud out there, no doubt, and we haven’t had that for a bit. I don’t know if the atmosphere unsettled us, but we didn’t stay calm and go through our structures when we needed to.” 

When asked about the tag of “underdogs” coming into the World Cup, England coach Jess Thirlby said her side don’t pay much attention to what anyone else thinks. 

“From a netball perspective, we know how good we are. From a technical point of view, we are on par with the top teams. The most reassuring thing we are taking away from today is to be able to come back from eight down and see a game out in the closing quarter, this is  the most valuable thing we can take away.”  

 

SCORES 

Q1: 13-15 

Q2: 32-26 (19-11) 

Q3: 45-44 (13-18) 

Q4: 55-56 (10-12) 

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Helen Housby (England)  

 

JAMAICA 59 – 48 NEW ZEALAND

Jamaica and defending champions New Zealand went head-to-head in their final Group G encounter to effectively decide who would top the group.

Jamaica famously beat the Silver Ferns in convincing fashion in the semifinal of last year’s Commonwealth Games, eventually going on to claim the silver medal in Birmingham. The Sunshine Girls once again emerged victorious, their impressive 59-48 win a first over New Zealand at a Netball World Cup.

Having had to bounce back from a nail-biting draw with hosts, South Africa, late on Wednesday, New Zealand raced to an early lead before the Jamaicans could put in their first goal. But once they levelled matters at 10-all, they didn’t look back. Both goal shooter Jhaniele Fowler and goal attack Shanice Beckford shot at 100 per cent in the opening quarter as the Jamaicans notched up a five-goal lead by the first break.

Neither team made any changes to their lineup at the start of the second quarter, which proved to be another fiercely fought one. The Silver Ferns looked more impressive on attack, holding onto their possession and outscoring the Sunshine Girls by one goal during the period. But a strong finish from the Jamaicans meant they still held a three-goal lead heading into halftime. There was some concern when the impressive Shamera Sterling, who has been nursing an ankle injury, limped off court during the third quarter and was replaced by Kadie-Ann Dehaney at goalkeeper.

Adean Thomas came on to replace Khadijah Williams at wing attack for the Jamaicans at the start of the third quarter while New Zealand coach Noeline Taurua continued to stick with her starting seven. The good news for Jamaica was that Sterling was fit enough to return to court with six minutes remaining in the period. New Zealand again enjoyed some good passages on play and won the quarter by just one goal but it was not enough to catch the fired-up Jamaicans.

With pressure mounting in the final period, some errors started to creep into the New Zealand game. Coach Taurua finally brought on several substitutes but it did little to stem the flow of Jamaican goals. While Romelda Aiken-George came on for the final few minutes of the match at goal shooter, the imperious Fowler finished with a 100 per cent shooting average, firing in all 49 of her attempts and being named Most Valuable Player. The 11-goal victory for her side saw them handing the defending champions their largest ever defeat at a Netball World Cup.

Speaking after the match, Jamaica’s assistant coach Keyan Murdock said: “It was a very good game, it kept us on our toes the entire match. We expected it to be that though – it’s New Zealand we were playing. They’re number two in the world for a reason and so we expected that kind of a performance from them.

“We were glad that our team were able to ride the waves and pull through at the very end. There are always things to work on but we’re happy for the win,” he added.

Jamaica captain and MVP Fowler said her side’s discipline and focus made all the difference. Asked about her own performance, she added: “To be honest, I felt no pressure throughout the game. I knew what was expected of me and so I just did my best to go out there and deliver.

New Zealand coach Noeline Taurua said: “I thought we still turned over a lot of ball. I thought it was gallant – I think that’s a good word – and they fought right through until the end. There were so many changes that were happening from Jamaica and it was quite physical as well.

“Pity it ended in that way because I thought it was quality from both teams… but there are some positives we’ll be able to take out of it and some lessons that we’ve got to learn – these reoccurring themes that are coming out that we need to be better on.”

Silver Ferns captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio added: “I think we felt in control when we had ball in hand… I think we were definitely in it until we let ourselves down a little bit, but actually for most of it I was very proud of our intent to stick to our gameplan.”

 

SCORES

Q1: 15-11

Q2: 26-23 (11-12)

Q3: 41-39 (15-16)

Q4: 59-48 (18-9)

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Jhaniele Fowler (Jamaica)

 

WALES 70 – 55 TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

Wales faced off against Trinidad and Tobago in Cape Town on Thursday with a place in the 9th/10th playoff at the Netball World Cup 2023 on the line.

The two sides have met at eight previous World Cups with the Caribbean side having won all of those encounters. But on Thursday it was the Welsh Feathers who enjoyed the early momentum. Trinidad and Tobago looked a little flat from the start and were struggling to hold onto their ball, allowing the Welsh to edge ahead and take a four-goal lead into the first break.

The match came alive in the second quarter with the Calypso Girls finding some of the rhythm and flair that they’ve displayed at the tournament so far while the Welsh stuck to their structures and continued to outpace their opponents. Trinidad and Tobago’s Afeisha Noel provided plenty of entertainment in the shooting circle, mixing it up with several layups and shots from distance. With the teams both scoring 15 goals in the quarter, Wales retained their four-goal lead at halftime.

The Welsh came out firing in the third quarter and Trinidad and Tobago were far less effective on defence. Wales were able to move with speed through the midcourt to feed their shooters, with Georgia Rowe excelling in the circle. The 6 ft 4 goal shooter finished a dominant quarter for Wales with 13 goals from her 13 attempts while she finished the match with a 98 per cent shooting average.

The final quarter was a close one, with only one goal the difference between the sides but ultimately the Welsh stood strong to wrap up a memorable 70-55 victory.

Wales will now play off for ninth place, while the highest Trinidad and Tobago can finish is 11th. Those positions would mirror their current world rankings with the Welsh currently in ninth and the Calypso Girls in 11th spot.

Speaking after the match Rowe said her side weren’t focused on the fact that they could claim a first win over the Calypso Girls in Netball World Cup history.

“It feels really good. I don’t think we allowed ourselves to have that pressure of it being the first time. I think we were coming in today after a disappointing loss yesterday and just making sure we were really connected,” she said.

“We stuck to our structures and weren’t focusing so much on who our opposition were, but just on what we were putting out on court, so we’re really pleased. Obviously, the fact that we had never beaten them is an extra celebration for us. I just think it was a complete team effort, which is really good.”

Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Daystar Swift said: “I felt they had better discipline. I felt the Welsh team were making safer passes and that really worked for them, getting the ball to the circle edge

“The energy was down. We tried our best before the game to really lift our spirits and take that spirit on court. Unfortunately, we now play for 11th and 12th which is not what we were expecting but we are working hard to seal that 11th spot and we definitely don’t want to go lower than that.”

 

SCORES

Q1: 18-14

Q2: 32-28 (14-14)

Q3: 53-39 (21-11)

Q4: 70-55 (17-16)

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Phillipa Yarranton (Wales)

 

FIJI 46 – 62 SCOTLAND

With the Scottish supporters belting out “Flower of Scotland” from the stands, the Thistles secured a 62-46 victory over Fiji in a Pool F match at the Netball World Cup 2023. With the win, Scotland advanced to the 9th/10th playoff while Fiji will contest for 11th/12th place. 

This was the sixth World Cup meeting between the two countries. Thursday’s Scottish victory has levelled matters at three victories each.  

Scotland started strongly with a commanding performance in the first 15 minutes. The mid-court, with captain Claire Maxwell at centre playing in her third World Cup, presented quality ball to the shooters who only missed one of their attempts. At the other end, the pressure Scottish defenders Cerys Finn and Emily Nicholl put on the Fiji shooters added to the error count of the Islanders growing.  

Starting the second quarter five goals down, the Fiji coaching staff made several changes off the bench as well as positional switches on court, including Ana Nauqe from wing attack to centre and Josephine Nailumu from wing defence to goal defence. It worked, and Fiji won the quarter 18-16. The halftime score was 29-26 in favour of Scotland.  

Fiji however couldn’t maintain their strong performance before halftime with Scotland continuing to capitalise on their opponents’ mistakes. The Scottish shooters then made sure of every opportunity presented to them in the circle and closed out the match with a comfortable win.  

Scottish captain Claire Maxwell was delighted with the win. 

“We’ve been a bit disappointed this competition so far, we’ve been almost there playing some good matches. So to grind out a 60-minute performance is really good. We stayed with our processes for longer, our error rate was fairly low and defensively we won a lot of ball.” 

Fiji goal attack Unaisi Rauluni said her side didn’t play as well as they wanted to. 

“It hasn’t been that great. We struggled in the mid-court area and this is something that we need to work on.” 

 

SCORES 

Q1: 8-13 

Q2: 26-29 (18-16) 

Q3: 39-45 (13-16) 

Q4: 46-62 (7-17) 

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Niamh McCall (Scotland)

Day 5 reports: England into semis, wins for Tonga, Zimbabwe

Just like Australia did with their win against Malawi earlier in the day, England secured their place in the semi-finals with a victory over Fiji at the Netball World Cup 2023 in Cape Town.

Tonga’s victory over Scotland ensured they will finish no lower than ninth, while it was Zimbabwe who triumphed in the battle of the bottom sides, claiming their first win of the tournament.

FIJI 28-89 ENGLAND

World number three England took on Fiji for the fifth time at a Netball World Cup and made it five wins from five in clinical fashion with a 28-89 victory in Cape Town on Tuesday. That saw them securing their spot in the semifinals with one game to play in the second round of preliminaries.

The Roses came out firing from the start. They proved solid on defence in the first quarter and even more deadly on attack with both shooters achieving a 100 per cent record and cruising to their highest quarter score of the tournament so far, taking a 26-8 lead into the first break.

Chelsea Pitman came on at wing attack at the start of the second quarter to earn her 50th England cap.

Fiji struggled to keep up with England’s pace as the Roses maintained their intensity in the second quarter. Another excellent showing from Imogen Allison – first at centre and then wing defence saw her turning plenty of ball to feed her rock-solid shooters. England’s slick connections saw them reaching the 50-goal mark by halftime, with Helen Housby maintaining her 100 per cent average, sinking 21 from 21.

The Pearls slowed England down somewhat in the third quarter, but not enough to have any major impact on the course of the game as England took a 46-goal lead into the final break.

The Fijians managed to score only five goals in the final period as England ran away with the 89-28 victory to book their spot in Saturday’s semifinals. The Roses’ showdown with Australia on Thursday will determine which side will top the group.

Despite the loss, Fiji were already assured of finishing higher than they did at the 2019 Netball World Cup after safely negotiating their way through the first group stage – so securing a place of 12th or higher.

England goal shooter Eleanor Cardwell was named Most Valuable Player after finishing the match with 40 goals from her 41 attempts for a 97.6 shooting average.

“I’m pretty pleased today,” said Cardwell afterwards. “Jess gave me the task of trying to shoot some longer shots today so I think I tried my best to do that. I’m pretty proud of all the team’s performance of what we put up today.”

As for her plans for a first hard-earned day off on Wednesday, Cardwell reckoned: “Sleep, sleep, eat, sleep. That’s about it. Might go on a little walk, venture out and actually see a bit of South Africa but hopefully lots of sleep.”

Fiji coach Unaisi Rokoura said afterwards it was a tough day at the office for her team.

"We knew England were going to be very tight defensively and we had to go hard at the ball from the beginning. In the first quarter we got some of the possession but we just didn’t capitalise on it and England took advantage of that,” she said.

“We came with a very young team and we've seen them grow in the last year as we prepared for the World Cup. They’ve now had the opportunity to play against the very big teams.”

SCORES
Q1: 8-26
Q2: 15-50 (7-24)
Q3: 23-69 (8-19)
Q4: 28-89 (5-20)

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Eleanor Cardwell (England)

TONGA 55-47 SCOTLAND

Tonga and Scotland faced off for the first time at a Netball World Cup in a Group F encounter in Cape Town on Tuesday, and it was the Tongan Tala who emerged as 55-47 winners.

The Scots missed several goals early in the first quarter, so allowing Tonga to get away from them and, perhaps, shaking their confidence. At the other end of the court, Tongan goal shooter Uneeq Palavi was once again a pillar of strength, however, putting in 12 of her 13

attempts in the first period. Her combination with centre Hulita Veve was also as impressive as ever, as the Tongans headed into the first break five goals up.

Scotland’s Emma Barrie came on for the struggling Beth Goodwin at goal shooter at the start of the second quarter, which proved to be a more even affair, ending on 13-13. Former Australian Diamond Mo’onia Gerrard had replaced Kelea Iongi at goal defence and

continued to put pressure on the Scottish shooters, whose average stood at just 69.7 per cent at halftime, compared to Tonga’s 84.8 per cent.

Scotland improved those numbers in the third number, slotting in 12 of their 14 attempts,

but with the damage already done, it was not enough to reel in the Tongans who continued to build on their lead, stretching it to nine goals by the final break.

A frantic final 15 minutes followed with the Thistles suddenly producing the intensity that was previously lacking and managing to win the quarter by one goal. But it was too little too late as the Tongans wrapped up the win to ensure they’ll finish no lower that ninth in the tournament.

Palavi was named Most Valuable Player and said: “Scotland was very physical – we expected that from them. But we also expected that from ourselves and it was a good match-up against them. 

“I think we just had the confidence. We came in blazing because we really wanted to prove ourselves after the previous losses against England and Australia. We just really wanted to cement ourselves in the rankings.”

Hannah Leighton, who did not receive the gift she would have wanted on her 25th birthday,

was impressive for Scotland in midcourt. She said a lack of consistency has let her side down.

“I think a lot of the things we were doing were good,” she said. “We were driving the ball through court and we were creating opportunities to win ball. I just think we need to be a lot more consistent throughout the game and just, at those key points, make sure that we’re still sticking to our structures and taking the ball forward with intent to goal.”

SCORES

Q1: 15-10
Q2: 28-23 (13-13)

Q3: 44-35 (16-12)
Q4: 55-47 (11-12)

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Uneeq Palavi (Tonga)

ZIMBABWE 71-36 SRI LANKA

With pride and honour on the line, Zimbabwe scored their first victory of the Netball World Cup 2023 in Cape Town when they beat Sri Lanka 71-36 in a Pool E match. 

The Gems started strongly, scoring four consecutive goals, causing immediate changes in positions for the Sri Lankan team on the court. Progress Moyo impressed with her excellent play on wing attack, controlling the mid-court and providing quality passes to the Zimbabwe goal circle. Shooters Nalani Makunde and Nicole Muzanenamo made the most of their opportunities, missing only one goal, and giving their team a comfortable 33-22 lead at halftime. 

In the second quarter, Sri Lanka performed better, scoring only three goals less than Zimbabwe and holding 60 per cent of the possession. 

However, in the last 30 minutes of the match, Zimbabwe, ranked 13th, dominated over 15th-ranked Sri Lanka, who seemed disheartened and unable to respond to the challenge. 

In the Zimbabwe circle, Muzanenamo displayed impressive split landings despite her small stature and was recognised for her outstanding performance with the Most Valuable Player award. 

In the final 15 minutes of the one-sided match, Zimbabwe continued their impressive play, scoring 19 goals while limiting Sri Lanka to just six, to wrap up the emphatic victory. 

Muzanenamo expressed her delight with her team’s performance.  “I would like to thank my teammates for not giving up, they did very well and did not give up until the very last minute,” she said. “I told myself whenever I get the opportunity, I’m going to give my best. We have also learned from our mistakes and we are going to work on that and keep on fighting.” 

SCORES:   
Q1: 17-10 
Q2: 33-22 (15-12) 
Q3: 52-30 (19-8) 
Q4: 71-36 (19-6) 

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Nicole Muzanenamo (Zimbabwe)

Day 4 match reports: Wins for SA, England, Jamaica and Singapore

Home side South Africa bounced back from their loss to Jamaica a night earlier to get the better of Trinidad and Tobago while Jamaica and England had no trouble maintaining their unbeaten records on the first day of second-stage preliminaries at the Netball World Cup 2023 in Cape Town on Monday. Singapore also claimed their first win of the World Cup with a hard-fought victory over Sri Lanka in a battle of the lowest-ranked team in the tournament.

SOUTH AFRICA 69-28 TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

After Sunday’s loss to Jamaica, South Africa headed into their first Pool G match against Trinidad & Tobago having received another devastating blow to their hopes of contesting for a medal at the Netball World Cup 2023 in front of their home crowd.

Goal shooter Lenize Potgieter, who played the first three quarters against Jamaica, was ruled out of the rest of the tournament due to a knee injury. She was replaced by reserve Sesandile Owethu Ngubane. Potgieter didn’t play in the Proteas’ games against Wales and Sri Lanka as a precaution because of what coach Norma Plummer referred to as “a slight niggle”.

Potgieter had an operation on her right knee in July last year and underwent intense rehabilitation. She missed the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham where South Africa had to settle for sixth position.

Plummer stuck with the same seven for the first two quarters as the Proteas took a commanding 33-15 lead by halftime. Coming back for the third quarter, Nichole Taljaard moved from goal attack to goal shooter while Elmeré van der Berg came on as goal attack.

With seven minutes to go, Ngubane earned only her second cap for South Africa when she replaced Taljaard. She scored her first goal at a World Cup within the last 30 seconds of the match.

Despite the commanding victory by South Africa, their seventh over Trinidad and Tobago in eight encounters at the World Cup, the Proteas’ below-par goal shooting would be of great concern. Between Venter, Taljaard and Van der Berg they missed 14 shots. The Proteas can ill-afford those sorts of stats against tougher opponents such as defending champions New Zealand who lie in wait on Wednesday.

Proteas assistant coach Dumisani Chauke acknowledged that losing Potgieter was not ideal as she has been a prominent member of the team.

“She’s been quite a strong anchor, so it is a blow. But we do have strong players in the team that are well capable of carrying on with the job and slot in nicely. Lenize is still around though, supporting us and making sure the girls stay together,” she said.

Chauke said it was easy for Ngubane to step up and take her spot in the team as the 15-player squad had been training together at several intense training camps in the run-up to the World Cup.

“All 15 are prepared for anything that comes along. So it was a smooth transition when she took to court today as there was nothing she [Ngubane] had to catch up on. She also had a great performance in the recent TNL [Telkom Netball League], so that was good.”

Trinidad & Tobago captain Shaquanda Greene-Noel commented that there were several things that didn’t work for her side in the match.

“We were ill-disciplined and against a physical team like South Africa, you can’t afford that. There were also a lot of silly mistakes and errors because we were under great pressure the whole match. But we just have to keep on moving forward as there are still matches left and we want to give our best,” she said.

SCORES:

Q1: 18-12

Q2: 33-15 (15-3)

Q3: 51-21 (18-6)

Q4: 69-28 (18-7)

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Nichole Taljaard (South Africa)

TONGA 46 – 72 ENGLAND

World No. 3 England took on the ever-improving Tonga for the first time at a Netball World Cup in their first match of the second stage preliminaries on Sunday and came away with a 72-46 victory.

Like they did against Australia last week, the Tongans provided a stiff test for their more fancied opponents in the opening quarter. While England headed into the first break 19-13 up, it was far from a comfortable lead.

England coach Jess Thirlby continued to switch things up by swapping Helen Housby and Eleanor Cardwell at goal attack and goal shooter at the start of the second quarter while the only change from Tonga was Mo’onia Gerrard (who played 68 Tests for the Australian Diamonds) and Lelea Iongi also switching positions – at goal keeper and goal defence. Midway through the period, Cat Tuivaiti was brought on as goal shooter but was only afforded one opportunity to score, Tonga being restricted to just nine goals in the 15-minute period.

While things were fairly even in the first quarter, England did an even better job of winning and holding onto their ball in the second, enjoying 62 per cent of the possession and surging ahead to reach halftime 38-22 ahead.

The Tongans were understandably smiling when they came off court after the third quarter. It was one in which they found their rhythm, showing more confidence, notching up four intercepts to England’s one, and almost matching the Roses goal-for-goal. The difference between the sides in the quarter score was just two goals.

A slick-looking England showed superior intensity and speed in the final period, however, and were able to pull away even further to wrap up a 72-46 victory.

Speaking after the match, England coach Jess Thirlby said: “I thought the whole team came with great energy today… I think we raised the bar today in terms of our best play, but are we still on the hunt to be more clinical? Absolutely.

“I think these girls are the first ones to say there’s some work to be done but we’re trying to just catch ourselves with – the bar’s gone up.

“I think our best today is the best we’ve seen from us through the tournament… It is important that we reduce our error count. It’s also really important that we reward getting back to what we believe to be our greatest strengths which is winning ball across the court with multiple people and finding some nice clean lines against a style of play actually quite similar to New Zealand so that’s been a good rehearsal for us.”

Asked what the difference was between the sides, Tonga’s Mo’onia reckoned: “Resources and time with teammates. Other than the scoreline, I think it’s a good indication of where we need to get.

“But it just shows you that a little country called Tonga can really inspire the next generation hopefully and also show the tier-one nations that it doesn’t matter where you’re from, we can still challenge and play the game of netball just as well as the teams that have all the cash.”

SCORES

Q1: 13-19

Q2: 22-38 (9-19)

Q3: 36-54 (14-16)

Q4: 46-72 (10-18)

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Imogen Allison (England)

 

 

JAMAICA 61 – 49 UGANDA    

With shouts of “defence, defence” from the Jamaican fans in the stands whenever Uganda had the ball, the Sunshine Girls carved out a crucial victory over the She Cranes in a Pool G match in Cape Town on Monday.

Jamaica goalkeeper Shamera Sterling and goal defence Latanya Wilson stuck like glue to She Cranes shooters Mary Cholhok and Irene Eyaru in the first 15 minutes of the match. So much so that Sterling copped a caution from the umpire for persistent contact.

Uganda enjoyed most of the possession at the start of the game. The normally reliable Cholhok however missed four of her 11 shots at goal and this saw the Sunshine Girls 15-11 in the lead after the first quarter.

In the run-up to halftime, the Jamaica midcourt effectively closed the attacking gaps of the She Cranes and got more access to the ball themselves. Shooter Jhaniele Fowler and goal attack Shanice Beckford maintained a 100 per cent shooting record to put the world number four team 38-21 ahead as the hooter sounded the end of the second quarter.

Uganda took to court with the same seven players for the second half of the match. With Margret Baagala having another standout centre-court performance, the She Cranes settled down for the first time and allowed the ball to do the work. The result was winning the third quarter 16-11.

Even though it was an equal-scoring last 15 minutes (12-12), Jamaica managed to hang on for the victory. All 12 players got time on court as every match at this stage of the World Cup is a must-win affair.

Jamaica’s Fowler afterwards acknowledged it was a game with plenty of ebbs and flows.

“There is definitely room for improvement and it was important that the full team take to the court. Today it felt a little disconnected at times and also a bit flat. We need to make sure to connect properly going forward.”

Uganda’s Irene Eyaru said it was the small mistakes that cost her team.

“There was a better effort in the second half and we made some changes to give everyone a chance to show what they are made of. We need to work on a few things to help us improve for the next games.”

SCORES:

Q1: 15-11

Q2: 38-21 (23-9)

Q3: 49-37 (11-16)

Q4: 61-49 (12-12)

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Shadiah Nassanga (Uganda)

 

SRI LANKA 52 – 55 SINGAPORE

A team that includes the tallest player in the tournament, 2.06m Tharjini Sivalingam, taking on a combination of the shortest promised to be an intriguing prospect as Sri Lanka took on Singapore in a clash of the Netball World Cup’s bottom-ranked sides.

What Singapore lacked in height, they made up for in speed in the opening quarter, effectively executing their short-pass game to take a nine-goal lead into the first break. A marked improvement in their shooting accuracy made all the difference for the Singaporeans.

Thishala Algama was brought on to replace Sivalingam at goal shooter in the second quarter, however, and that sparked a massive turnaround for Sri Lanka, who swiftly made up the nine-goal deficit and even inched into the lead by halftime.

A tightly contested third quarter meant the teams remained neck and neck, with just two goals in it heading into the final quarter. A miscued pass from the Sri Lankans in the circle with two minutes to play proved to be crucial with the turnover allowing Singapore to edge ahead and claim a 55-52 win.

Defender Jamie Lim was named Most Valuable Player and said: “It feels great. We’ve been up against so many strong competitors in the first round and getting a win today really boosts our morale. Also, it’s against the defending champions of Asia so that will give an extra boost to us for the next games.”

As for turning the tables on the same team that beat them by 21 goals at the previous Netball World Cup four years ago, Lim added: “It’s awesome to get any win actually, especially a first win in this World Cup and to have it against another Asian country that we lost to before shows how much hard work we’ve put in and how much we’ve grown since the previous World Cup.”

SCORES

Q1: 10-19

Q2: 27-26 (17-7)

Q3: 40-42 (13-16)

Q4: 52-55 (12-13)

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Jamie Lim (Singapore)

Day 3 match reports: Wins for England, Uganda, Jamaica, Tonga

Hosts South Africa were handed their first loss of the Netball World Cup 2023 in Cape Town on Sunday, as Jamaica secured top spot in Group C. England topped Group B with victory over Scotland while Uganda and Tonga also recorded victories to ensure their progress to the second round of the preliminaries which starts on Monday.

ENGLAND 62-37 SCOTLAND

Group B leaders England took on Scotland for the 10 th time at a Netball World Cup on Sunday afternoon in Cape Town and comfortably made it a perfect 10 out of 10 against the Thistles.

Coming off a good win against Barbados a day earlier, the Scots headed into the clash against a side ranked seven places above them full of fire. They managed to inch ahead at the start and were 3-4 up at one point, but a run of six unanswered goals from England saw the Roses levelling matters and then surging ahead. They took that five-goal lead into the first break.

England’s Olivia Tchine and Helen Housby effectively built on that lead in the second quarter as Scotland squandered several opportunities through basic errors. There was some concern as England centre Imogen Allison left the court in the final minute of the first half with what looked like a knock to the shoulder.

The third quarter was a good one for Scotland with several promising passages of play as they enjoyed more ball and put the English under a little more pressure.

But ultimately, although England’s scoring rate wasn’t as high as in their previous matches, they remained in control of proceedings and passed a memorable milestone in the third quarter, Tchine slotting in England’s 8000th goal in Netball World Cup history.

Their 62-37 victory saw England through to the second preliminary stage at the top of Group B with Scotland also progressing as the third-placed side in the group.

England wing attack Chelsea Pitman was named Most Valuable Player and said: “It’s amazing. I didn’t shy away from the fact that this was a goal of mine, to work my way back into the Roses and get to the World Cup so to be here and just be around the girls and feeling this environment is something really special… so I’m just a happy chappy.”

Speaking about England’s progress to the next stage, Layla Guscoth added: “It’s been a good three games. It’s been three completely different styles so I think that’s prepared us well going through to the next phase of things. I think it’s just about building, there’s nothing new that we need to do going into these two phases. It’s just about reflecting on what we’ve done and keep building and pushing towards the end goal.”

Scotland coach Tamsin Greenway, who represented England at three Netball World Cups as a player, said: “I’m really pleased if you understand what our processes are. We know our journey. We came here to challenge Malawi and we did it. We came here to beat Barbados and we did it. We came here to practise against England and learn and we did that.

“We’ve made improvements from 2019, we put into place some things I needed to fix from our last two games… we did all those things so I’m very happy.”

SCORES
Q1: 14-9
Q2: 31-18 (17-9)
Q3: 46-29 (15-11)
Q4: 62-37 (16-8)

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Chelsea Pitman (England)

UGANDA 74-33 TRINIDAD & TOBAGO 

It may not have been as clinical as they wanted it to be, but Uganda nevertheless outclassed Trinidad & Tobago 74-33 at the Netball World Cup 2023 in Cape Town on Sunday.  

On Saturday, eight-ranked Uganda went toe-to-toe with defending world champions New Zealand, only losing by 10 points. They scored a historical win over South Africa at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, relegating the Proteas to sixth position.  

The Ugandans started Sunday’s match without shooter Mary Cholhok, at 2.01 metres the second tallest player in Cape Town, instead opting for Christine Namulumba and Irene Eyaru in the circle.

Cholhok recently was the leading goal scorer in the UK Netball Super League, scoring 908 goals at an average of 50 per match.  

Trinidad and Tobago got the scoreboard going, pouncing on a few loose balls from Uganda and they managed to grab an early lead within the opening minutes. Sloppy work in midcourt by the Calypso Girls, however, saw the She Cranes getting on track to equalise and then build some breathing space. They held a narrow three-point lead after the first quarter. 

Cholhok moved in under the pole for the second quarter while Shaffie Nalwanja (wing defence) switched places with Christine Nakitto (goal defence). Cholhok teaming up with Eyaru proved to be the right decision as both made sure of their shots to put points on the board and put Uganda 33-18 in the lead at halftime.  

Initially it looked like Uganda was slowing down the pace of play considerably at the start of the third quarter, possibly a tactical decision to conserve energy for the next round of matches. However, the all-important third quarter turned out to be the She Cranes’ highest scoring one with 21 goals scored.  

In the last 15 minutes Uganda simply drove it home with clinical precision. They did the basics well and moved the ball down court with ease as Trinidad and Tobago ran out of gas.  

Uganda’s Irene Eyaru was named the Most Valuable Player of the match. As goal attack she scored 18 out of 19 goals. In the third and fourth quarters, she played wing attack. 

Speaking after the match, She Cranes goalkeeper Haniisha Muhameed said her side are ready for the rest of the tournament. 

“We wanted to win today, so we now have to go and do it, we are ready for it, mentally and physically. Every time you have the opportunity to go out there and play, it’s a good feeling. We are looking forward to the rest.” 

SCORES: 
Q1: 14-11 
Q2: 33-18 (19-7) 
Q3: 50-27 (21-9) 
Q4: 74-33 (20-6) 

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Irene Eyaru (Uganda) 

JAMAICA 67-49 SOUTH AFRICA

In the most hotly anticipated showdown of the first stage of preliminary matches, hosts South Africa faced off against Commonwealth Games silver medallists Jamaica to determine which side would top Group C.

In a surprise move, South Africa’s Lenize Potgieter was included in the starting seven, taking to the court for the first time in the tournament, with both knees heavily strapped.

It was a nervous start for both sides with possession changing hands three times before the opening goal was scored by Jamaica. The Sunshine Girls edged ahead in the opening minutes before the Proteas levelled at 8-all and then took the lead for the first time soon after. But some silly errors from the home side proved expensive and the Jamaicans capitalised to take a four-goal lead into the first break.

The Sunshine Girls then began to dominate in the second quarter, easily finding goal shooter Jhaniele Fowler in the circle and the Proteas soon found themselves nine goals down.

Despite massive encouragement from Potgieter, Elmeré van der Berg looked somewhat overwhelmed at goal attack and was soon replaced by the more confident Nichole Taljaard. Her

introduction had an immediate impact and the Proteas worked hard to close the gap, but they were still eight goals down at halftime.

The error count continued to rise for the South Africans in a disastrous third quarter, allowing the Jamaicans to take an even firmer grip on the game. The Sunshine Girls defence was particularly effective in preventing Potgieter from getting any ball in the circle and with five minutes remaining in the quarter, the South Africans had scored just one goal. The damaging third period for the hosts finished 20-3 in favour of the Caribbean nation.

Ine-Mari Venter was brought on to replace Potgieter at goal shooter for the final quarter and Shadine van der Merwe at wing defence while captain Bongi Msomi returned to centre. It was a better 15 minutes from the South Africans, who actually won the quarter by five goals, but that did little to dent the massive gap that the rampant Jamaicans had built by then.

The 67-49 win sees Jamaica progressing to the second stage of the preliminaries top of Group C, so providing a potentially smoother path to the semifinals.

Jamaican defender Jodi-Ann Ward was duly rewarded for her efforts by being named Most Valuable Player.

Speaking after the match, Jamaica’s assistant coach Keyan Murdock said: “We are pretty pleased in terms of the overall performance. The third quarter was impressive but I know we were playing a quality team so we expected the challenge that came from them. The final score doesn’t reflect how hard the game was so kudos to the South Africans in terms of how hard they played.”

South African captain Bongi Msomi remained positive after the match, saying: “It’s always best to play in front of your home crowd but mostly I’m pleased with how we started. The girls really stood strong.

“There were a few patches where we could have been better… I think this is a lesson. The World Cup doesn’t stop today. Yes, there are couple of tough games that we are going to come up against but if we can put together some of the great performances we had today, I think we can look forward to what’s next.”

SCORES
Q1: 16-12
Q2: 32-26 (16-14)
Q3: 52-29 (20-3)
Q4: 67-49 (15-20)

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Jodi-Ann Ward (Jamaica)

TONGA 55-46 ZIMBABWE  

Not even a passionate group of Zimbabwean fans staying on their feet, singing and dancing throughout the match could prevent the Gems from suffering a 54-46 loss against Tonga at the Netball World Cup 2023 in Cape Town on Sunday. 

For the African team it was their third successive defeat while Tonga added Sunday’s win to their victory over Fiji on the opening day of the tournament. They lost to Australia on Saturday.  

Tonga shooter Cathrine Tuivaiti came on court in the last minutes of the match. She is representing her third country having previously played for Samoa and New Zealand. This is her second World Cup after playing for Samoa at the 2007 tournament in Auckland. 

Zimbabwe initially created brilliant attacking moves with the ball landing in the circle regularly and with shooters Sharon Bwanali and Tafadzwa Matura scoring at 100 per cent. The Gems’ sharp passing put added pressure on the Tongan defence and they took an early lead. However, the Talas then started dishing out some of the same medicine and ended the first quarter three goals ahead.  

The next 15 minutes saw the momentum stay with Tonga as defenders Mo'onia Gerrard and Kelea Iongi made it difficult for the Zimbabwean attacking players to create openings. Tonga’s mid-court 

players further took control of the game. The Gems did manage to pull it back somewhat in the last minutes before halftime, but Tonga went into the break still leading 27-24. 

The second half of the match was a seesaw battle. The Gems continued applying pressure on Tonga as the Islanders were trying to move through the court and feed the ball into their goal circle.

Tonga’s shooters however remained composed and made sure of the chances to score that did come their way.  

As the final 15 minutes began, Zimbabwe found themselves trailing by nine goals. They tried to stage a comeback and cause a possible upset against a team ranked six places higher on the latest world rankings. The clock however was against them.  

Zimbabwe assistant coach Wisdom Shinya said their failure to maintain the early pressure on their opponents is what cost them the game. 

“It was an issue of mental fitness and also endurance, it’s coming up now to a point where the players are tired. We tried whatever we could have done but it wasn’t our day.” 

According to Shinya, his side need more exposure on international level to be more competitive.  

“We need to play more friendlies, not only with the African teams, we need to play against the big giants so that we can adjust to their level of play. Our players need to be out there.” 

SCORES 
Q1: 14-11 
Q2: 27-24 (13-13) 
Q3: 42-33 (14-9) 
Q4: 55 -46 13-13) 

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Kelea Iongi (Tonga)

Match reports, day 2: Wins for SA, England, Scotland,Trinidad&Tobago, Jamaica

South Africa thrill home crowd with convincing victory as England cruise and Scotland claim first win

Hosts South Africa claimed an emphatic victory over Sri Lanka while world No. 3 England had no trouble in getting past the Malawi Queens at the Netball World Cup 2023 in Cape Town on Saturday. In other matches, Scotland earned their first win of the tournament with victory over Barbados while Trinidad and Tobago did the same against Singapore.

 

SOUTH AFRICA 87 – 32 SRI LANKA

 Taking to the court in brightly coloured Ndebele-inspired dresses with the stands in the Cape Town International Convention Centre packed with enthusiastically cheering local fans, South Africa crushed Sri Lanka 87-32 at the Netball World Cup 2023 on Saturday.  

The South African starting line-up looked a little different from the one that beat Wales a day earlier. Elmeré van der Berg got another chance, this time moving to goal shooter, with Nichole Taljaard moving to goal attack. Izette Griesel started on centre in the place of Khanyisa Chawane and Nicola Smith got the nod at goalkeeper ahead of Karla Pretorius.  

For Sri Lanka, there was no Tharjini Sivalingam, who, at 2.06 metres is the tallest player at this year’s World Cup. At the age of 44, she is also the oldest.  

South Africa shut out any Sri Lankan playmaking from the get-go while stamping their authority on proceedings. The Proteas’ opponents were frustrated with their inability to have any say in the one-sided match, with wing defence Bhashini De Silva copping a caution towards the end of the first quarter. 

Sri Lanka could not score consecutive goals as especially Griesel managed to intercept numerous balls. Griesel, playing in her third Netball World Cup, had a solid game at centre, and the same went for Jeanté Strydom who made her Proteas debut against Wales. She deservedly walked away with the award for most valuable player. South Africa went into the halftime break 45-18 up. 

Pretorius earned her 100th cap for South Africa when she came on in the third quarter, replacing Shadine van der Merwe at goal defence. Captain Bongi Msomi also got a well-deserved break with Chawane putting on the centre bib and Griesel moving to wing attack.  

The Proteas piled even more pressure on Sri Lanka, adding 23 goals in the third quarter and stretching their lead to 44. 

In the last 15 minutes, Ine-Marie Venter, the most valuable player against Wales, assumed the goal shooter position, earning her 50th cap while Phumza Maweni came off the bench to resume her defensive partnership with Pretorius.  

With nine minutes to go, South Africa stretched their lead to 50 points for the first time. They then seemed to take their foot off the pedal somewhat with the victory secured and not wanting to risk serious injury ahead of what promises to be a pulsating affair against Jamaica on Sunday. 

Pretorius said it was fantastic celebrating a milestone like a 100th cap for one’s country on home soil as well as in front of family and friends.  

“The highlight of my career must be the 2019 World Cup where I got the player of the tournament award. And then earlier this year the Quad series [against New Zealand, Australia, England] when I returned after having my daughter Kara, putting in the hard work to get out on court again,” she said. 

A beaming Strydom said she’s never felt prouder in her life. 

“I’m sitting here next to three legends of the game, 100 caps and 160 caps [for Pretorius and Msomi] and Norma on her 100th win yesterday. With me only on two caps, this is the best feeling in the world, and I can’t actually describe how I’m feeling, it’s overwhelming.” 

SCORES: 

Q1: 24-9  

Q2: 45-18 (21-9)  

Q3: 68-24 (23-6)  

Q4: 87-32 (19-8) 

 

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Jeanté Strydom  

 

SCOTLAND 53 – 44 BARBADOS

Scotland and Barbados faced off at the Netball World Cup for a seventh time in the tournament’s history with both sides chasing their first win of the 2023 event in Cape Town. Their previous head-to-head record stood at 4-2 in favour of the Bajans but Scotland closed that gap with a 53-44 victory on Saturday.

Barbados had suffered a 29-90 loss at the hands of England while Scotland were edged out 49-55 by Malawi after the African nation staged a massive comeback in their clash on the opening day of the tournament on Friday.

While both teams struggled slightly to find their rhythm in the opening period, a run of five unanswered goals at the end of the quarter saw the Scots taking an 11-8 lead into the first break.

A slicker performance from the Bajan Gems with fewer errors meant they were able to level matters in the second quarter, however, with the teams all square on 23-all by halftime.

Just like they did in their game against England a day earlier, Barbados lost some focus in the third quarter, and Scotland took advantage – producing several solid periods of play to build up a five-goal lead.

With their noses in front and the prospect of a first victory of the tournament in sight, the Scots managed to extend that advantage in the final quarter to wrap up a 53-44 victory.

After notching up a 93.5 per cent shooting average, Scottish goal attack Niamh McCall was named Most Valuable Player.

Speaking about how her side managed to bounce back after a heartbreaking loss to Malawi a day earlier, McCall explained: “To be honest, we did have that chat and it was a case of drawing a line and saying today is a new day. It was important that we got the win today because that’s what we came here to do was win, so I’m really happy and proud of our team performance.”

As for the MVP award, she added: “It’s really difficult getting the award because I feel like that was a full team performance but I can’t not be happy with my stats compared to yesterday… I’m really happy that I was able to step up and shoot them in today.”

Barbados wing attack Sasha Corbin, who together with her sister Kadeen previously represented England, was devasted by the result, saying: “I think we showed fight today. We definitely took some good stuff from the game yesterday against England.

“I think that last bit we didn’t push on and we didn’t always have the options. We just struggled a little bit on that but you can’t fault the defence. We tried so hard to get ball, we tried to look after turnovers. We’re just gutted, to be honest.

“We need to look after our possession and today we fell short and threw some annoying passes away, silly errors so I’m pleased with how we came out fighting but we now need to learn how to finish games properly.”

SCORES

Q1: 11-8

Q2: 23-23 (12-15)

Q3: 38-33 (15-10)

Q4: 53-44 (15-11)

 

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Niamh McCall (Scotland)

 

ENGLAND 62 – 39 MALAWI

In the fifth meeting between England and Malawi at a World Cup, the Roses made it five out of five when they beat the Queens 62-39 in Cape Town.  

England was fresh off a massive 90-29 win over Barbados on Friday while Malawi scored a come-from-behind victory over Scotland. Before Saturday, the last time the two squads faced each other was at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. The Roses dominated throughout the match then and comfortably beat Malawi 66-41.  

Saturday’s match kicked off with England unable to convert their first centre pass, and Malawi capitalised on this opportunity, securing an early lead. A familiar face for fans of the Netball Super League in the UK was Malawi goal shooter Joyce Mvula who previously played for Manchester Thunder.  

England seemed to be caught off guard by their opponents’ skilful play through the court, with the African side remaining within touching distance and finishing the first quarter only two goals behind. In the next 15 minutes, however, mistakes began creeping into Malawi’s general play, granting the Roses some breathing space and relief. The score at halftime was 29-20 in favour of England.  

As the second half got under way, it was clear England managed to overcome their rocky start to the match with a much-improved performance. Their defensive end found stability with the reliable combination of Geva Mentor and Layla Guscoth. The experience of these two players added a sense of assurance to their performance. 

In the third quarter, the umpires called time when Malawi centre Takondwa Lwazi took a significant fall and went down in a heap of pain. Her teammates helped her off court and it seemed it was the end of the match for her. She did however return in the last 15 minutes.   

England pulled away in the third quarter, outscoring Malawi by 10 goals and at the same time not allowing their opponents to score more than twice in succession. The Queens regained some ground in the last 15 minutes, but a repeat of Friday’s comeback exploits against Scotland was not to be.  

England goal shooter Helen Housby was awarded the Most Valuable Player for a good all-around performance in the circle. She landed all 17 of her shots at goal.  

England coach Jess Thirlby was once again pleased with her team’s efforts.

I think we’ve prepared well for styles like this. I think it’s important to respect the opposition. We really look forward to the challenge of different levels of physicality and different styles of play so we kind of knew what to expect and we also know tactically how to be smart about it,” she said.

“I think everyone has had a test today and I think it’s perfect to get a test so soon on day two. We felt prepared for this game and I think we shouldn’t really wipe away a 20-plus goal win against such a quality side as anything other than a great step in the right direction.”

Malawi captain Jane Chimaliro said it was unfortunate that her side couldn’t continue with their good performance from the first quarter. 

“We came hard at them in the first quarter and it started very well for us,” she said. “The game was very close but I think we lost concentration and consistency in the third quarter, and that’s why we lost the game. And then we didn’t play well in the last quarter.” 

 

SCORES: 

Q1: 12-10 

Q2: 29-20 (17-10)  

Q3: 48-29 (19-9)  

Q4: 62-39 (14-10) 

 

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Helen Housby  

 

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO 49-36 SINGAPORE

Trinidad and Tobago raced into a seven-goal lead before Singapore could make any impression on the scoreboard in their Group D encounter. But the Asian side did well to rally and close that gap. Singapore’s shooters struggled with their accuracy though, goal attack Kai Wei Toh sinking just one of her seven attempts in the first quarter as the Caribbean team headed into the first break 13-10 up.

Singapore’s scoring woes continued in the second quarter, but with Trinidad and Tobago also squandering several chances to find their shooters at the other end of the court, the match remained a tight one. Evidence of this was the fact that just 17 goals were scored in total in the 15-minute period.

In the end, it was Trinidad and Tobago’s physicality and superior shooting accuracy that triumphed over Singapore’s speed. They started pulling away in the third quarter and extended their lead in the fourth to wrap up a 49-36 victory – their first of the Netball World Cup 2023.

That also saw the Calypso Girls extending their record of wins over Singapore at the Netball World Cup to six out of six.

Trinidad and Tobago goal shooter Afeisha Noel was named Most Valuable Player and said: “A first win for Trinidad and Tobago is really good. To come out of this group in the top three is an honour.

“I think our composure made the difference today. We went to the changeroom and we spoke as a team, the coach spoke to us and told us to regroup and then we came back out and we dominated… Our coach always tells us short and sharp passes and that’s what we did.”

Singapore goal shooter Amandeep Chahal said: “I did get a few pushes and nudges but I guess that’s just the physicality of the game, so you just have to stand strong.

As for her side’s troubles in the shooting circle, Chahal added: “I guess we just have to regroup and come back stronger tomorrow, work on our shooting and shooter passes, like triangles and stuff, just to bring the ball closer and improve the accuracy.”

 

SCORES

Q1: 13-10

Q2: 21-19 (8-9)

Q3: 34-30 (13-11)

Q4: 49-36 (15-6)

 

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER:  Afeisha Noel (Trinidad and Tobago)

Match reports: Wins for SA, Jamaica, England, Malawi

SOUTH AFRICA 61-50 WALES

South Africa cleared the first hurdle in their Netball World Cup 2023 campaign when they beat Wales 61-50 at a packed CTICC in Cape Town.  

The Welsh team didn’t only have to contend with the superiority of the Proteas on the court but also the deafening roar of the home crowd in the stands. There was cheering, dancing and singing throughout the 60-minute encounter that undoubtedly fuelled the home side’s determination to make their country proud.  

Player of the tournament at the 2019 Netball World Cup in Liverpool Karla Pretorius made her 99th appearance for the Proteas and was in great form, putting her impressive defensive abilities on full display. 

In the first two quarters, South Africa showed why they are fifth on the latest world rankings compared to Wales’ ninth position. They had the height advantage over their opponents as well as the speed and agility across court. The Proteas went into the lead 32-24, with Ine-Marie Venter having a stellar performance as goal shooter, finding the net time after time.  

While most of the players settled well into their positions, Elmeré van der Berg seemed to struggle to find her feet. Welsh defenders Ella Powell-Davies and Christina Shaw pounced on Van der Berg’s nervousness, keeping her from making her mark on the big stage. Her shooting average of 50 per cent was clear evidence of that and she moved to the bench for the final two quarters of the match, being replaced by Nichole Taljaard. Coach Norma Plummer also brought on Jeanté Strydom (for Shadine van der Merwe) who made her international debut for South Africa. 

Wales didn’t make any substitutions until the third quarter with Nansi Kuti replacing Georgia Rowe at goal shooter. It was also Kuti’s debut for Wales.  

In the final stretch of the match, South Africa started pulling away. They used their status as one of the most experienced teams at the World Cup in terms of international caps and upped the tempo to completely shut out the Welsh and clinch an important victory on the first day of action.  

Plummer was beaming with pride about Venter’s performance that saw her named the Most Valuable Player. 

“Her growth has been phenomenal. She had outstanding shooting for us,” said Plummer.

“It was a win, not what I necessarily would call a convincing win. I thought our first quarter was sensational but then the Welsh notched it up in the second and third quarters. We started spraying balls and that was disappointing. There’s a lot of information that we now have and that we can use and work on.” 

On Sunday, the Proteas face Jamaica who stacked 105 goals against Sri Lanka. Captain Bongi Msomi said they are not looking that far ahead.  

“We are taking it day by day. Next it’s Sri Lanka. In 2019 we were in the same situation, anything can happen on any day. But first things first, and that’s tomorrow.” 

SCORES: 
Q1: 18-9 
Q2: 32-24 (14-15) 
Q3: 47-37 (15-13) 
Q4: 61-50 (14-13) 

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Ine-Marie Venter (South Africa) 

JAMAICA 105-25 SRI LANKA

Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls got their tournament off to a storming start, notching up a formidable 100-point total in their opening Group C match against Sri Lanka.

That was only the second time the Jamaicans have scored 100 goals on the World Cup stage and the 14 th time that the century mark has been surpassed by any team in the tournament’s 60-year history. 

The last time the milestone was achieved was in 2015 when Sri Lanka was also on the receiving end of a 101-18 drubbing at the hands of Malawi.

On Friday, the Jamaicans slotted in 11 goals before the Sri Lankans got themselves on the scoreboard.

Goal shooter Romelda Aiken-George notched up a 100 per cent shooting average in the opening quarter, scoring 19 of her side’s 26 goals. This is the 34-year-old’s fifth Netball World Cup, so equalling the Jamaican record jointly held by her coach, Connie Francis, and Janet Johnson.

Sri Lanka won the Asian qualifying tournament to book their place at the Netball World Cup but found it tough going against the slick Jamaican outfit, reaching halftime facing a 41-goal deficit.

Jhaniele Fowler came on for the first time in the third quarter and notched up a near-perfect 24 out of 25 goals as the Jamaicans continued to dominate. She added 18 more in the fourth quarter to finish with a 97.7 shooting average – both she and Aiken-George (97.1 percent) making the most of their significant height advantage in the circle.

It was Rebekah Robinson who slotted in the Jamaicans’ 100 th goal of the match in the final quarter as they romped to a 105-25 victory.

Speaking after the match, coach Francis said: “I loved the way the girls went out there and put on a fantastic show… I am so proud that they were able to execute well throughout the court.

“It was good to get all the girls out there and you know what I was happy about, was the different types of combinations that we could run and we were able to see that the girls were executing it.”

Commenting on her side surpassing the 100-goal mark, Francis simply added: “The girls set specific targets and to see them attain them was really good.”

Sri Lankan captain Gayanjali Amarawansa admitted afterwards: “For Asians this was a very tough game. This is the first time we have played against Jamaica so we had a good experience. I think we have to experience games like this so it was a good one.

“Toughness and physicality are the good lessons for us so we hope to go ahead with that.”

SCORES:
Q1: 26-5
Q2: 52-11 (26-6)
Q3: 75-18 (23-7)
Q4: 105-25 (30-7)

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Latanya Wilson (Jamaica)

ENGLAND 90 – 29 BARBADOS

England also got their bid for a first ever Netball World Cup crown off to a positive start, producing a commanding performance against Barbados in their opening Group B encounter.

The match was unique in that it saw England’s Geva Mentor and Jade Clark as well as Barbados’s Latonia Blackman all stepping out on the Netball World Cup stage for an incredible record-equalling sixth time.

The two sides have met a total of six times in Netball World Cup history, with the island nation never having gotten the better of the Roses.

While the Bajan Gems had a positive start to the match, staying in touch for the first five minutes, seven unanswered goals from England towards the end of the quarter saw them surging further ahead than they already were to reach the first break 20-8 up.

The English didn’t look back from there, dominating on all fronts, winning the next quarter by the same 12-goal margin and continuing that ascendency.

Barbados could manage just four goals in the third period and things didn’t go much better in the fourth, the Roses rolling out comfortable 90-29 winners.

England coach Jess Thirlby was understandably pleased with her team’s performance, in which World Cup debutante Funmi Fadoju was named the Most Valuable Player.

“I’m really pleased. It’s a solid start. I think while we’re not getting carried away with the scoreboard, one of the learnings for us is to make sure we’re more consistent quarter on quarter, irrelevant of changes… and I actually thought quarter on quarter we got stronger, we found more ball through the game which was great, we adjusted.

“It’s a confidence boost but we’re not getting carried away, we have bigger challenges to come in the next couple of days.”

Barbados coach Denise Alleyne said: “I think we had a really good first half, we stuck to the gameplan for the most part. We didn’t convert as many as we would have liked but we were able to move the ball around and we had some good spots. We had a bit of a mental lapse in the third quarter that spilled over to the fourth but for the most part, I saw some good things happening and we have some stuff we can improve upon for our next game.

Speaking about Blackman playing in her sixth Netball World Cup, she added: “It’s just great, Latonia is a patriot at heart. It’s interesting because my very last tournament as a player was her first so we actually played together for one tournament. I hope it’s not her last. She still has a lot to offer – her spirit, her personality, everything she stands for is what Barbados netball is all about.”

SCORES:
Q1: 20-8
Q2: 42-18 (22-10)
Q3: 65-22 (23-4)
Q4: 90-29 (25-7)

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Funmi Fadoju (England)

MALAWI 55-49 SCOTLAND

In a pulsating match at the Netball World Cup 2023, the Malawi Queens scored a 55-49 come-from-behind victory over Scotland. It was the first time these two sides have met in the history of the sport’s showpiece tournament.

Before the tournament started, Scotland captain Claire Maxwell said her team wanted to shake the tag of underachievers. This result certainly didn’t do anything to achieve what she set out to do.

The match started with a bang as Malawi's shooting duo, Joyce Mvula and Jane Chimaliro, displayed remarkable accuracy, converting all their chances at goal in the first quarter. But despite their impeccable shooting, Malawi struggled to retain possession, with only 37 per cent of the ball in their hands. Scotland held a comfortable 17-9 lead at the end of the first quarter and it looked like an upset was on the cards.

In the second 15 minutes, the African team kicked into high gear, proving their mettle and resilience. With fresh legs stepping in from the bench, the team started gradually chipping away at the seemingly insurmountable lead Scotland had established earlier on.

Scotland, on the other hand, started the first three quarters with an unchanged lineup, sticking to their initial strategy of staying with the tried and tested. They introduced replacements in the final 15 minutes in an attempt to salvage the match but it was not to be.

Malawi will undoubtedly want to build on the exceptional performance against Scotland with their eyes set on the playoffs. For their opponents it is time to regroup and refine their match strategies, hoping to bounce back stronger.

Q1: 17-9
Q2: 29-22 (12-13)
Q3: 41-35 (12-13)
Q4: 55-49 (20-8)

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Joyce Mvula (Malawi)

England first team to arrive ahead of NWC

With just two weeks to go to the start of the Netball World Cup 2023, the first overseas team has touched down in Cape Town.

England was the first visiting team to arrive in South Africa today, ready for the global tournament which will take place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from 28 July to 6 August.

The England Roses have competed at every edition of the tournament since its inception in 1963 with a best result of second place in 1975. In addition, they have collected six bronze medals – their most recent one coming on home soil in Liverpool four years ago.

But, with the team having claimed Commonwealth Games gold back in 2018, England coach Jess Thirlby is eager for her side to take a step up and make it all the way to the Netball World Cup final this time around.

“The global game has moved on since the last World Cup and now more than ever, the margins between the top nations are at their narrowest,” she said.

“Tournament netball and its conditions are like no other league in the world and it will be important to call upon those varying styles of play within the team in order to help move us closer to breaking into a World Cup final for the first time,” said Thirlby.

“The [England] team are highly ambitious, hugely supportive of each other and I trust together we will do whatever we can to perform at our best in Cape Town.”

England have been grouped with Malawi, Scotland and Barbados in Pool B for the Netball World Cup 2023. After their first match against Barbados on 28 July, they face Malawi on 29 July and Scotland a day later.

“With home nation Scotland, the African Malawi Queens and the Caribbean style in Barbados we have a true test of playing diversity to prepare for,” said Thirlby.

“We know these teams will give us a great challenge physically and tactically, especially Scotland and Malawi who look more determined than ever to rise up the world rankings further and we underestimate no one on our World Cup journey.

“We played Malawi in Birmingham and they are known for their ball retention and have quality in their shooting circle as well as a dynamic defensive style.

“Scotland have been more exposed to international competition of late and will be stronger for that as they head to Cape Town.

“Barbados are full of flair and are fearless in how they play, are always accurate at goal with long-range specialists,” added the coach, who represented England as a player from 1991 to 2006 and competed at the 2002 Commonwealth Games.

As for contesting a first Netball World Cup on African soil in Cape Town, Thirlby added: “We know and love Cape Town and it holds special memories for me having led the team to victory on what was my first Roses series back in Autumn 2019. “We always feel welcome and we spent time in Stellenbosch last year at a training camp which was great.

“We know Cape Town and South Africa will put on an incredible event, celebrating the diversity of World Netball and we are really looking forward to the challenge.”

Details on tickets and travel packages and more information are all available on the official tournament website (www.nwc2023.org.za) with a range of tickets and packages still available.

Photo by Brenton Geach/Gallo Images/Netball World Cup

Mentor: VNWC2023 is so vital for Africa

England defender Geva Mentor believes the fact that the Vitality Netball World Cup 2023 will take place on African soil for the first time will have a great impact on the growth of the sport on the continent.

Speaking ahead of what will be a remarkable sixth Netball World Cup appearance for the England icon, Mentor said: “The African nations are on the rise, we’re seeing the impact they’re having in the top domestic leagues and in turn the performances they’re putting out against other nations. 

“To be able to showcase all the best netballers in the world on African soil is another opportunity to keep growing the sport and we all know the Africans will create a vibrant, loud and entertaining event.”

The energy levels are certainly expected to be raised when the Vitality Netball World Cup 2023 takes place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from 28 July to 6 August.

The tournament will bring with it a bittersweet moment for Mentor as she takes to the court for one final tournament before retiring from the sport. The 38-year-old recently confirmed her plans to call time on her career at the end of the tournament.

“It still doesn’t feel real, or perhaps like the right decision, but it’s something I felt I had to do,” she explained. “A big part of who I am is often putting others before me and, compelled by the fact that I want to leave a place better off, it was time I step aside and allow others to have the opportunity to develop and gain experience so the Roses can go on to carve a strong legacy.”

Mentor started playing netball as a teenager. Her mother hails from Bournemouth, where she grew up, and her father from St Lucia in the Caribbean. While her first love as a child was trampolining – representing the UK as a junior – she soon fell in love with the camaraderie in netball. Clearly a natural, Mentor joined her first team at the age of 13 and by 14 she’d been called up to the England Under 17s, then earning her first senior cap at the age of 16.

In a career that’s spanned more than two decades, she’s solidified her place as one of netball’s all-time greats, claiming Commonwealth Games gold with England at Gold Coast 2018 and three Netball World Cup bronze medals, while also excelling in Australia’s Suncorp Super Netball.

Looking back on her career, it’s the opportunities that it has provided for which she is most grateful and what she loves about the sport.

“It would be easy to say the camaraderie, the successes, the people and while, yes, that’s right up there, when I think about it more deeply, it’s the opportunity. 

“To ride the highs and lows with an exceptional number of humans, the opportunity to travel and experience different cultures, the opportunity to dedicate my time to making me the best version of myself and to empower those around me to find theirs. 

“So, I guess in a nutshell it’s the opportunity.”

As for her predictions for the Vitality Netball World Cup 2023, where England will be eager to finally make the breakthrough and challenge for a first title, Mentor reckoned: “Anything is possible, right? All the Netball World Cups I’ve been part of I believe the standard of competition is getting tougher, the physicality more intense and the calibre of skill on display awe-inspiring. 

“So, it’ll come down to the tactics and who not only shows up on the day, but who is consistent and improves with every outing.”  

Asked what the secret has been to her longevity, Mentor simply says: “No secret, just take each day and moment as it comes and find the fun in all you do.”

England begin their Vitality Netball World Cup 2023 campaign against Barbados on 28th July with their two other initial group games against Malawi on 29th July and neighbours Scotland on 30th July.

Details on tickets and travel packages and more information are all available on the official tournament website (www.nwc2023.org.za) with a range of tickets and packages still available. 

Image courtesy World Netball