Birmingham Scoop – Day 7

Birmingham Scoop – Day 7

Thursday 4th August

 

RESULTS

Jamaica 57 def Australia 55
Wales 60 def Barbados 44
Northern Ireland 41 def Trinidad & Tobago 32
Uganda 56 def Malawi 43
South Africa 65 def Scotland 46
England 54 def New Zealand 44


 

LET’S TALK

The netball world order has shifted. And you get the feeling that it’s not shifting back any time soon. For the first time in history, neither Australia, nor New Zealand, has topped their groups at a major international tournament. Instead, Jamaica and England have that honour. While Australia and New Zealand can still feature in the final, the days of tournaments having inevitable trans-Tasman deciders are well and truly gone.  

What a brilliant performance we saw from Jamaica, coming from behind to snatch a great win over Australia, and topping Group A. That is their first win over Australia at a major tournament, and just their sixth in all matches. Australia (and New Zealand) will have to create a first of their own now if they’re to take Gold in Birmingham, as all six previous Commonwealth Champions have gone through the tournament undefeated. 

Once known for their prowess at finishing games strongly, in four of their past five matches against top 5 opposition at major tournaments (CG & WC), Australia has been outscored in the last quarter. The other game was the 2019 WC final which they lost anyway. Outscored to the tune of 17-9 in the final quarter today, there will be a lot of pressure on the Australians to see if they can bounce back from this defeat. 

 

Jamaica was so focused on their pre-match chat, that they missed the start of the match. It was their centre pass, but fortunately the umpires held play until they were ready.

 

It’s (temporarily) the end of a beautiful friendship! Teammates and friends at West Coast Fever, and frenemies at the Commonwealth Games, Jhaniele Fowler and Courtney Bruce went toe to toe in their Day 7 match. Bruce received an accidental smack in the chops early on, and neither player took a step back all game. After the game, Bruce said that she was disappointed that she didn’t win more ball off Fowler, but, “Once we’re finished here, we are all good.” 

 

Australia have traditionally had three coaches in the national structure – a head coach, plus two others. Following Marg Caldow’s retirement as a specialist shooting coach, Sharelle McMahon briefly filled the role, but since that time it’s been vacant. Australia currently have limited experience, two Games debutantes in the shooting end, plus Bueta being played out of her regular domestic position – so is the lack of a shooting coach a critical omission?

 

Liz Watson under strong defensive pressure. Image: Sue McKay | Kick it to Me


 

INJURIES

Diamond’s midcourter, Paige Hadley was rested from the match against Jamaica with her ongoing calf injury.

As the tournament has worn on, more and more strapping tape is holding weary athletes together. Trinidad & Tobago’s Shaquanda Greene is the latest to be spotted with a heavily taped knee. 

Emma Magee and Niamh Cooper (both Northern Ireland) had a heavy clash of heads during their match. 

Fi Toner (Northern Ireland) was thrown to the ground, but managed to play on, despite looking uncomfortable for a few minutes afterwards. 

England called injury time, but Stacey Francis-Bayman hadn’t got the memo. She had to ask, ‘Who me?’ Time for a new substitution rule, anyone???

 

Jo Harten is just one of a number of players sporting heavy taping. Image Sue McKay/Kick It To Me Photography


 

MILESTONES

Jo Weston notched up 50 test caps in the game against Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls. 

 

Jo Weston in defence. Image Sue McKay/Kick It To Me Photography


 

STAT CHAT

Jhaniele Fowler (Jamaica) – 47/50 (94%)
Shaquanda Greene-Noel (Trinidad & Tobago) – 14 gains
Shaquanda Greene-Noel (Trinidad & Tobago) – 11 rebounds
Liz Watson (Australia), Caroline O’Hanlon (Northern Ireland), Takondwa Lwazi (Malawi) & Bongi Msomi (South Africa) – 26 assists
Nat Metcalf (England) – 46 feeds
Fionnuala Toner & Caroline O’Hanlon (Northern Ireland) – 5 intercepts
Joelisa Cooper (Trinidad & Tobago) – 5 turnovers
Ella Powell-Davies (Wales) – 18 penalties


 

PLAYERS OF THE DAY

With her dogged defence and combination with Latanya Wilson, Shamera Sterling’s defensive pressure over the shot, aerial ability, and skill to shut down players meant that Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls  were not out of the fight until the final whistle. 

Steph Wood proved to be essential in the ability for the Australian Diamonds to contend Jamaica in the goal circle, especially when Gretal Bueta was defensively smothered. Her accuracy and ‘chill’ demeanour were essential. 

Latonia Blackman conjured magic in the Barbados-Wales match. The legendary goal attack shot 19/19 at 100%, and paired with Shonica Wharton beautifully, showing craftiness, speed, and cheek. The Gems have proven themselves the fastest team at the tournament in the attacking triple-play tap on, where the ball isn’t caught, rather more flicked back and forth until the shooters are under the post.

Shaquanda Greene-Noel was outstanding for Trinidad & Tobago in a losing side. She picked off 14 gains, including two intercepts, 4 deflections, 11 rebounds and four pick ups. 

Uganda’s Irene Eyaru took the pressure off her two taller shooters. With them double-teamed at times, Eyaru drove into the circle and along the baseline, contributing 22/23 (96%), and was significant in Uganda’s victory.

For Malawi, centre Takondwa Lwazi had 34 feeds and a pick up, and was one of the leading lights in a losing side. 

Rachel Conway earned a start for Scotland, and in her three quarters, came up with five gains, including 3 intercepts, 2 deflections, 1 rebound and 2 pickups, in a strong effort against two tall South African shooters. 

One of those tall shooters was Ine-Mari Venter. She was strong once again for South Africa, dominating under the post with 42/44 in just 51 minutes. 

England Captain Nat Metcalf was tremendous, leading from the front against New Zealand. 46 feeds, 25 assists, 21 centre-pass receives and four pickups in an outstanding performance. New Zealand didn’t really have an answer to her.

 

Nat Metcalfe had a captain’s game. Image Sue McKay/Kick It To Me Photography


 

MATCH REPORTS

 

Jamaica 57 def Australia 55 (13-14, 16-16, 11-16, 17-9)

With both Australia and Jamaica coming off four straight Pool A wins, by generous margins, this match-up has been long-awaited to see who will top the table. The match was highly contested with 16 goals apiece in the second quarter, but Australia was able to break away with a six-goal lead at three quarter time, putting their foot down through increased defensive pressure and a heightened work rate. 

Smart passing from the Australian Diamonds saw them capitalise off their gains, unlike Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls who sometimes lost their possession with long or loopy passes out of the defensive end. There were several moments where Jamaica turned the ball over due to their impressive defensive effort, however, their transition through the midcourt sometimes lacked the finish that the intercept deserved.

As expected, Jamaica brought strong defensive pressure around and inside the circle, causing hesitation for the Australian Diamond midcourt, at times, who were feeding into the goal circle. Passing out of the circle proved difficult for the Diamonds with the hands of players like Jodi-Ann Ward and Latanya Wilson getting tips to the ball. There were moments where the Diamonds looked stagnant at the top of the circle and the forced passes saw Jamaica get tips to the ball. 

The Diamonds responded with increased pressure on the transition of ball down the court, patient passing and using the width of the court, and sharp and flat passes in the goal third to allow time for both shooters to lose their defenders. Australia’s goalkeeper, Courtney Bruce, worked to keep Jhaniele Fowler high on the circle to stifle her bread-and-butter ability to drop back to the post, but the connection with Shanice Beckford and the midcourt, especially in the first and last quarters, proved too strong for the Australian defenders to disconnect.

The game was notably ‘all over the shop’ as Australians would say, with seamless play down court followed by scrappy or uncharacteristic errors. This may be due to the lack of pressure through the tournament to date for the Diamonds, and the wildcard nature of the Jamaican side. 

Despite Australia’s lead throughout most of the game, Jamaica brought the heat in the final quarter with defensive pressure forcing dropped or replayed balls, and some wayward passes from Australia. Jamaica took the win in the last half of the final quarter, showcasing their discipline to stay in the contest for the full 60 minutes, which was another question posed to the team against the World’s #1.  Jamaica finished with 5 intercepts (to Australia’s 2) and 13 gains (to Australia’s 6), which demonstrates their work rate.

The intercept and connection between Jhaniele Fowler and Shanice Beckford proved difficult to shut down, with some accurate passing and shooter to shooter connection. The main question going into this match was the Jamaican midcourt, and Khadijah Williams and Nicole Dixon-Rochester answered with their power in their feeds to Fowler. This was difficult to stop, even with the change of defenders by Australia in the last quarter.

Jodi-Ann Ward brought the pressure to Liz Watson, coming up with an important intercept in the fourth quarter, which lifted the intensity of the game. Shamera Sterling marked closely throughout the game, stifling Gretel Bueta with a match-for-match likeness in their ability to take aerial ball. This proved to be very difficult for the Diamonds to connect the top of the goal third into the circle and arguably, this is where Australia lost the game. 

Although two of Sterling’s rejections did not pass through the regiment of the umpire, she was still able to get a crucial intercept in the final quarter to send the ball back into Fowler’s hands to secure the win. A notable mention also goes to Steph Wood, whose shooting and movement was outstanding and formidable, keeping the Diamonds in contention when Bueta was covered in many instances. 

Moving forward, it will be most interesting to see how Australia recovers and what Jamaica goes on to achieve after this historical win! 

AUSTRALIA
BUETA 36/39 (92%)
WOOD 19/22 (86%)
TOTAL 55/61 (90%)

JAMAICA
FOWLER 47/50 (94%)
BECKFORD 10/10 (100%)
TOTAL 57/60 (95%)

 

Jamaica celebrate post match. Image Sue McKay/Kick It To Me Photography

 

Sarah Klau and Courtney Bruce double team Jhaniele Fowler. Image Sue McKay/Kick It To Me Photography


 

Wales 60 defeated Barbados 44  (18-10, 16-13, 12-10, 14-11)

In their last pool game, Wales and Barbados put together their most consistent all-round team performances. Both sides clearly took this fixture seriously, hardly making changes in 60 minutes, each achieving their highest score of the tournament.

Betsy Creak played the whole match in both shooting positions, hitting 91%, impressively taking on physical attention with calmness and assertion. The Wales midcourt engine of Bethan Dyke, Suzi Drane, and Nia Jones were slick and reliable, especially Dyke, who used great variety in drives and selection of pass to finish with 25 goal assists.In the back, goal defence Ella Powell-Davies had a heavy penalty count with 18, but read the opposition attack well, making four intercepts and seven deflections.

The Bajan Gems were competitive in every quarter, but were let down with their pass selection and lack of patience crossing the attacking transverse line, allowing Wales five more intercepts. They also were guilty of simple errors including breaking or offside when their team was in possession. 

On the other hand Barbados showed their flair in both shooting and defensive circles. Akeena Stoute, giving away about 20 centimetres to Welsh goal shooter Georgia Rowe, managed a spectacular deflection of the shot, jumping second after Shonette Azore-Bruce. The veteran shooting combination of Latonia Blackman and Shonica Wharton showed some priceless interplay, tapping the ball onto each other, smiling every minute and making the Welsh defenders dizzy.

The result puts Wales in a playoff for seventh or eighth, against Malawi, while the Bajans will be aiming for their first win of the tournament in the 11/12 classification match, against Caribbean frenemies Trinidad and Tobago.

WALES
ROWE 21/24 (88%)
CREAK 30/33 (91%)
ROBERTS 9/14 (64%)
TOTAL 60/71 (85%)

BARBADOS
WHARTON 21/27 (78%)
BLACKMAN 19/19 (100%)
AGARD 4/5 (80%)
TOTAL 44/51 (86%)


 

Northern Ireland 41 def Trinidad & Tobago 32 (14-5, 10-10, 8-7, 9-10)

Trinidad & Tobago’s slow start (5-14) will haunt them after the following three quarters were all tied up. Loopy midcourt passes through the midcourt were picked off by Northern Ireland’s Fi Toner and Caroline O’Hanlon, who finished with seven and five gains respectively.  Trinidad & Tobago improved from the second quarter on, using their fakes and changing up the timing.

Northern Ireland’s goal shooter Ciara Crosbie worked her angles and space well, but was guilty of remaining stagnant for the pass, allowing Shaquanda Greene-Noel and Aniecia Baptiste time to manouevre. Greene-Noel had an enormous captain’s game, finishing with 14 gains, including 2 intercepts, 4 deflections, 11 rebounds, and 4 pickups. 

With plenty of niggle in T&T’s shooting circle, calls went both ways, although they were heavily against the Caribbean side in their midcourt and defence. They continued to rotate their side in an attempt to gain a winning edge, but Northern Ireland proved too strong, and will play off for 9th or 10th place.  

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
NOEL 18/18 (100%)
COOPER 7/9 (78%)
HOLLINGSWORTH 7/9 (78%)
TOTAL 32/36 (89%)

NORTHERN IRELAND
CROSBIE 27/34 (79%)
MAGEE 8/14 (57%)
BOWMAN 4/8 (50%)
McGRATH 2/3 (67%)
TOTAL 41/59 (69%)


 

Uganda 56 def  Malawi 43 (14-11, 14-13, 13-9, 15-10)

In the most colourful match of the tournament so far, fierce rivals Uganda and Malawi faced off in a crucial placing game. Ranked 6th and 7th in the world respectively, pride and the outcome of playing for 5th and 6th, or 7th and 8th, was at stake, with the crowd aware of the importance of the match. 

In what was an initially goal for goal battle, far too much attention was paid to Uganda’s towering goal attack, Mary Cholhok, with goal attack Irene Eyaru doing much of the damage under the post. Malawi defenders Towera Vinkhumbo and Loreen Ngwira battled on, but the height difference against Cholhok was particularly challenging, with the Malawi defence heavily penalised against her.  

Malawi managed to put their challenging first quarter behind them, and while they narrowed the gap briefly, Uganda pulled ahead again. Trying to reverse their fortunes, Malawi introduced Joyce Mvula at goal shooter, shifting Mwai Kumwenda to goal attack. 

However, Shaffie Nalwanja (GK), Joan Nampungu (GD) and Sandra Nambirige (WD) combined well in defence to limit Malawi’s scoring opportunities. 

Uganda played Malawi at their own possession game, hanging on to the ball, and giving away just seven turnovers. Malawi finished on 79 penalties to Uganda’s 55, as tired bodies clashed, but the latter made the most of their opportunities to win by 13 goals.

MALAWI
KUMWENDA 22/23 (96%)
CHIMALIRO 14/15 (93%)
MVULA 4/6 (67%)
SIMTOWE 3/3 (100%)
TOTAL 43/47 (91%)

UGANDA
CHOLHOK 31/33 (94%)
EYARU 22/23 (96%)
PEACE 3/3 (100%)
TOTAL 56/59 (95%)


 

South Africa 65 def Scotland 46 (15-12, 16-13, 16-11, 18-10

A strong start by Scotland initially stunned South Africa, before they rediscovered their clinical movement through court. With South Africa’s two talls, Ine-Mari Venter and Elmere van der Berg, starting over Lefebre Rademan, the attacking line took a little time to adjust. Captain and wing attack Bongiwe Msomi was the main source of speed and drive, but her team used a more measured approach to goal.

Phumza Maweni was a rock at goal keeper, shutting down space in the circle, and also causing hesitation among the feeders when she cribbed into the pockets. Her combination with Nicola Smith was damaging, with 15 possession gains between the pair.

South Africa ran a largely unchanged line into the third quarter, with just Lefebre Rademan substituted into the game. In contrast, Scotland again rang the changes, as coach Tamsin Greenway builds experience into her squad. 

Shooters for both teams performed well. Venter was strong under the post for South Africa. The Scottish defence did well in the first half to somewhat contain her partnership with van der Berg, with Rachel Conway at goal keeper doing a good job for her team. The Scottish shooters were all consistent. Beth Goodwin once again played the major role. Niamh Mcall also shot well for Scotland, as did Emma Barrie once in the game. 

SOUTH AFRICA
VENTER 42/44 (95%)
van der BERG 17/17 (100%)
RADEMAN 6/7 (86%)
TOTAL 65/68 (96%)

SCOTLAND
GOODWIN 21/25 (84%)
McCALL 13/15 (87%)
BARRIE 12/14 (86%)
TOTAL 46/54 (85%)


 

England 54 def New Zealand 44 (15-8, 10-16, 14-9, 15-11) 

Both teams have had some tough contests through Pool B, but this match was their biggest test as they fought it out for top spot. Regardless of the result they both have immense tasks ahead of them, with the loser set to face Jamaica and the winner to do battle with Australia for places in the gold medal match. It was a fierce start from the home side, pushing out to a sizeable lead. Dame Noelene Taurua worked her magic, making changes that paid dividends and saw the gap shrink to one at half time. England jumped back into the lead in the third quarter, and were able to maintain it for the rest of the match despite New Zealand’s best efforts.

Grace Nweke for New Zealand struggled in the early minutes against the immense pressure from the England defenders Geva Mentor and Layla Gusgoth, missing some early shots and not managing to collect the rebound. The combination with Maia Wilson was clunky, with Wilson’s lack of feeding experience, given she spends the majority of her domestic league at goal shooter, evident as she often chose to put Nweke under pressure rather than working the ball around the circle.

Nat Melcalf’s connection with both English shooters, courtesy of her domestic time at both NSW Swifts and Manchester Thunder, was on show as she found both Eleanor  Cardwell and Helen Housby with ease and they rewarded the effort with accuracy to post. Both shooters were deliberate and dynamic with their movement, eluding their defenders with the help of strong triangles and swing balls around the circle edge.

New Zealand coach Dame Noelene Taurua was forced to make changes from the get go, as her side was trailing by seven at the first break. Kate Heffernan was brought on to wing defence in an effort to quell the impact of Metcalf, and Te Paea Selby-Rickit was injected at goal attack to bring some finesse on the feed to Nweke. The Silver Ferns hustled their way back into the game, their defensive zone tightened which saw them collect more turnover ball and the shooters rewarded them with increased accuracy leaving them behind by just one at the main break. 

Roses coach Jess Thirlby made a big call to start the second half, swapping Cardwell and stalwart Jo Harten. Despite not shooting until seven minutes into the quarter, Harten brought increased movement to the shooting circle, keeping Kelly Jury on the move and allowing the top of the circle to open up so Housby could continue dominating. 

Within 5 minutes, England had pushed out an 8-2 lead in the second half. Forcing wholesale changes for Silver Ferns as they looked to increase defensive pressure and bring back the margin they worked so hard for in the second quarter. 

By three quarter time, there was a clear scoring end, with at least five goal swings in each quarter as teams changed ends. This set New Zealand up with the chance to come stomping home. Changes came from both sides, the most notable being the benching of Nweke for Wilson and Sulu Fitpatrick moving back to goal keeper, joined by Phoenix Karaka at goal defence. Imogen Allison also made a cameo at wing defence for England, in which time she made the deflection and pick up that secured the game for the Roses. 

Changes aplenty yet again from Taurua, as she made the last roll of the dice to try and secure the win. Unfortunately it didn’t pay dividends, and England continued to dominate all through court, running out to a 10 goal win and setting themselves up for a fierce battle against Australia for the chance to defend their Commonwealth title. This leaves New Zealand with a tough battle against Jamaica, as they hope to turn their fortunes around from their most recent Commonwealth Games appearance. 

NEW ZEALAND
NWEKE 23/29 (79%)
SELBY-RICKIT 13/13 (100%)
WILSON 8/9 (89%)
TOTAL 44/51 (86%)

ENGLAND
CARDWELL 26/29 (90%)
HOUSBY 23/26 (88%)
HARTEN 5/6 (83%)
TOTAL 54/61 (89%)

 

Geva Mentor forced Grace Nweke into a number of errors. Image Sue McKay/Kick It To Me Photography

 

Helen Housby in game mode. Image Sue McKay/Kick It To Me Photography


Check out all the scores, stats, and upcoming schedule HERE.


 

TOMORROW’S SCHEDULE

 

Classification Matches:
(UK Times)

9am – Playoff for 11th/12th – Barbados v Trinidad & Tobago
11:30am – Playoff for 9th/10th – Scotland v Northern Ireland

2:30pm – Playoff for 7th/8th – Wales v Malawi
5pm – Playoff for 5th/6th – South Africa v Uganda

 

SCHEDULE FOR SATURDAY

Semi-Finals:

9am – Jamaica v New Zealand (6pm AEST, 8pm NZ, 3am Jam)
2:30pm – England v Australia (11:30pm AEST, 1:30am NZ)

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