Birmingham Scoop – Day 8

Birmingham Scoop – Day 8

Friday 5th August

 

RESULTS

Trinidad & Tobago 63 def Barbados 31
Scotland 43 def Northern Ireland 33
Malawi 62 def Wales 56
Uganda 54 def South Africa 48


 

LET’S TALK

Despite playing in a team that recorded just one win, Trinidad & Tobago’s captain, Shaquanda Greene-Noel has been one of the stars of the Games. A brilliant defender, she has played every single minute of the six games Trinidad & Tobago has played, and finished with an astonishing 49 possession gains, at an average of 8.2 per game. She is also one of the great characters in the game.

We now wait to see what club team Greene-Noel plays for in 2023. She has been seen dropping sneaky hints on Twitter. The VNSL signing period opens on the 8th August, and to paraphrase Banjo Paterson, ‘There’ll be movement at the franchises.’

The Sports World Arena at Birmingham has been a fantastic venue for netball at the Commonwealth Games, except for one or two minor issues. People down at ground level have been feeling the cold. Gary Burgess was spotted sitting in the reserve umpire’s chair, with a jumper and rug. When asked about it, he had a cheeky reply on Twitter. 

 

 

Burt the Ball, the England team mascot, has had a busy few months. On tour with the Roses, he’s been spotted sipping a cold one, bushwalking, and hanging out with match day balls at the Commonwealth Games. Check out his Insta account. 

 

Norma Plummer is acting as a specialist coach for South Africa, and has often been spotted up in the stands, watching netball. Plummer, who is an enormous advocate for netball, is keen to see the development of all nations, including those outside the top four, with a more structured approach to match play and ranked tier play.

Following a mix up with their bibs, Northern Ireland had to take the court in the fourth quarter missing their goal shooter. They somehow worked it into the circle where Ciara Crosbie took the shot, missed, then picked off the rebound against two (much) taller defenders. 

Malawi are another nation that have had significant issues with bibs across the tournament, and on at least four occasions have had to sit a player off for at least one centre pass. In their final, the mix up was so significant that they missed three to four centre passes at once.

 Which begs the question – what was the ongoing issue? Are their coaches and team managers not paying attention to the tournament rules? Is there a language barrier issue? Do teams without their own professional competition need a few more days of development work with umpires before a pinnacle event?

It’s fair to say that Uganda’s victory over South Africa, taking fifth, is the most significant event of the tournament so far. Ranked in sixth, but 30 points below their southern neighbours, it was a stunning achievement, and yet another sign that the world order of netball is changing. They also managed this feat with superstar Proscovia Peace on the bench, with Mary Cholhok at goal shooter. Peace was instead taking on more of a coaching role, clearly visible providing extensive feedback to players at each of the breaks. 

 

Proscovia Peace looking for an outlet pass. Image Sue McKay/Kick It To Me Photography


 

INJURIES

Sadly with only 20 minutes remaining in the last game of the tournament for Barbados, wing defence Vanessa Bobb was wheeled off with what appeared to be a serious knee injury, causing a hush throughout the stadium followed by supportive applause.

There was also a heavy collision between both teams’ goal defences, which saw Tonisha Rock-Yaw (Barbados) head to the bench as she was a little wobbly on her feet. 

A heavy fall to Suzy Drane (Wales) left her stretched out on the floor for an extended period of time. When she eventually stood up, she headed to the bench looking particularly uncomfortable. It’s unknown what her injury is, but would appear to be torso or head related. 

Lefebre Rademan (South Africa) went down with a serious looking knee injury. It was briefly looked at on the side lines, but further assessment will be needed. 


 

MILESTONES

Georgia Rowe played her 50th international test cap for Wales, against Malawi.


 

STAT CHAT

Mwai Kumwenda (Malawi) – 49/50 (98%)
Takondwa Lwazi (Malawi) – 28 assists
Janeisha Cassimy (Trinidad & Tobago) – 25 assists from 42 feeds
Shantel Seemungal (Trinidad & Tobago) – 7 pickups
Shaquanda Greene-Noel (Trinidad & Tobago) – 5 rebounds
Shaquanda Greene-Noel (Trinidad & Tobago) – 12 gains
Caroline O’Hanlon (Northern Ireland), Joelisa Cooper & Afeisha Noel (Trinidad & Tobago) – 5 turnovers
Aniecia Baptiste & Tonisha Rock-Yaw (Trinidad & Tobago) – 18 penalties

 

Claire Maxwell celebrates with her daughter. Image Sue McKay/Kick It To Me.


 

PLAYERS OF THE DAY

Once again, Shaquanda Greene-Noel was a star for Trinidad & Tobago, finishing with another 12 possession gains, five pickups, and five rebounds, combining beautifully with Aniecia Baptiste who had seven of her own. Greene-Noel was often seen to pump herself up in celebration after a strong rebound or dazzling intercept, a smile never far from her face.

Ciara Crosbie pulled off a major feat for Northern Ireland. Playing goal attack in the fourth quarter against Scotland, her new goal shooter was too slow to take the court and was forced to wait on the sideline. Somehow, a defensive stop from the Warriors progressed through the court and she took an unsuccessful shot, but out-rebounded two opponents, to sink a goal all on her own to huge cheers.

Uganda’s Shaffie Nalwanja played a phenomenal game against South Africa to help push them to their highest finish at a pinnacle event. Despite being significantly shorter than Venter, she held strong front position, often forcing high balls that were off target. She also had the ability to peel off her player and hunt around the edge of the circle, using her exceptional footwork to get cleanly around the player. 


 

MATCH REPORTS

 

Playoff of 11th-12th:

Trinidad and Tobago 63 defeated Barbados 31 (17-5, 18-11, 14-7, 14-8)

A complete team game from Trinidad and Tobago saw them put their Caribbean opposition to the sword in the playoff for eleventh and twelfth. They utilised their speed and strength advantage all over the court, but particularly in their defensive circle. Shaquanda Greene-Noel continued to star for her team at goal keeper, taking advantage of the strong team defence to come from nowhere and ambush the Bajan attack at any point in the goal third, finishing with 12 gains.

Singling out other players for Trinidad and Tobago would be perhaps unfair, as the entire team managed to dictate space, give a quick and accurate release of pass, ceaselessly employ a give and go in attack, and transition from defence to attack and vice-versa very quickly – all iced with classy shooting.

It certainly was a scrappy game at times, evidenced by the high tally of 26 pickups per team. This also showed that Barbados never lost their application, and kept in the contest despite patchy execution that led to occasional overt frustration in their veteran players. The combination of Stephian Shepherd at centre and Samantha Browne at wing attack created more open flowing netball. A big blow came to the team when wing defence Vanessa Bobb suffered an apparently severe knee injury in the third quarter and had to be wheeled off.

BARBADOS
AGARD 14/19 (74%)
BLACKMAN 9/10 (90%)
WHARTON 7/11 (64%)
HOLDER 1/1 (100%)
TOTAL 31/41 (76%)

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
NOEL 38/43 (88%)
COOPER 25/31 (81%)
TOTAL 63/74 (85%)


 

Playoff of 9th-10th:

Scotland 43 def Northern Ireland 33 (10-10, 12-6, 10-9, 11-8)

With the European qualifiers arriving in a few months, just two berths available for the 2023 World Cup, and Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales all key contenders, the battle for 9th and 10th was always going to be hotly contested. In a rugged arm-wrestle, a few key factors told the story of the match – Northern Ireland’s excellent defence especially through Fionnuala Toner resulted in 17 gains to Scotland’s 11, but her team gave away a grim 17 turnovers to Scotland’s seven; and the smooth shooting of the Thistles, 14% better than the Warriors, sealed ninth place in the tournament for Scotland.

Both teams suffered nerves in the first four minutes, with the scoreline just one-all. Northern Ireland showed magnificent clogging of the middle channel and multiple strong rebounds, only to implode on attack with a litany of bad passes. Turnover stats were bad reading for captain Caroline O’Hanlon, but she was in reality the victim of multiple overcooked balls that she desperately tried to rescue from the sideline. The result was an even first quarter, drawn 10-all.

Tactical changes from Scotland coach Tamsin Greenway revitalized the Thistles in the second. Suddenly they abandoned the middle corridor and swung the ball wide before impressive slick passes down the opposite sideline with great leadership from captain Claire Maxwell. Niamh McCall also mixed up her approach at goal attack, clearing the circle so Beth Goodwin was 1-on-1, or using the periphery and sinking balanced long shots. 

Scotland also focused on causing chaos at the centre pass, with none of the individual opposition players taking more than nine centre pass receives for the match. They doubled Northern Ireland’s score 12-6 for the quarter.

Third stanza changes for Northern Ireland saw them keep in touch, although new shooter Jenna Bowman only shot at 50%. Once again it was the scrambling pressure of the Warriors’ defenders that was the highlight. Beginning the final period, Northern Ireland’s Emma Magee was too slow onto the court at shooter, and miraculously Ciara Crosbie, playing alone in the circle, rebounded her own miss and scored. Yet the pattern continued, too many turnovers by the warriors, and assured shooting by Scotland, handing the result to the Thistles.

SCOTLAND
GOODWIN 23/27 (85%)
MCCALL 20/26 (77%)
TOTAL 43/53 (81%)

NORTHERN IRELAND
CROSBIE 17/24 (71%)
MAGEE 12/17 (71%)
BOWMAN 4/8 (50%)
TOTAL 33/49 (67%)

 

Northern Ireland finished tenth. Image Sue McKay/Kick It To Me.

 

Scotland defeated Northern Ireland to finish 9th. Image Sue McKay/Kick It To Me.

 

Two legends of netball – Caroline O’Hanlon (Northern Ireland) and Claire Maxwell (Scotland). Image Sue McKay/Kick It To Me.


 

Playoff for 7th-8th:

Malawi 62 def Wales 56 (13-17, 17-11, 18-13, 14-15)

In an incredibly high quality match, Wales started clinically and jumped out to a seven goal lead, stunning Malawi in the early stages of the play-off for 7th and 8th. However, the Queens settled down, and by the time the half time break came, had gained a narrow ascendency. 

Sindi Simtowe started driving harder to the post, while defenders Towera Vinkhumbo and wily captain Caroline Mtukule worked overtime to box the Welsh shooters away from the post and also out of rebounding position. As a result, Georgia Rowe was caught pushing off several times. However, with the height difference between Rowe and Betsy Creak, and the Malawi defenders, the tactic was only intermittently effective. 

There were no such difficulties for Mwai Kumwenda and Simtowe, who at half time were still shooting at an incredible 97% accuracy. However, Ella Powell-Davies was able to disrupt play on several occasions, finishing with three gains.

In a surprising change to their game style, Malawi played more direct netball than the close passing, possession style that fans know and love. There were plenty of free-flowing passages down court, with Mwai Kumwenda exiting on the circle on numerous occasions to act as another attacking outlet.

Bethan Dyke and Suzy Drane controlled the attacking midcourt midcourt for Wales, while Nia Jones continued to be used as a backdoor outlet on the centre pass, and taking a team high 23. It’s a tactic that Wales have used all week, potentially allowing team members to set up deeper in attack. Drane unfortunately copped a hard knock, and had to be substituted out of the game late in the third quarter. 

For such a quality match, the numbers were formidable. Malawi edged all the returns, shooting at 95% (Wales 92%), coughing up just 6 turnovers (Wales 7) and picking off 10 gains (Wales 5 gains), of which Vinkumbo came up with six. 

With World Cup qualifiers coming up shortly, neither side will be complacent, but Wales in particular should be happy that they are heading in the right direction. 

WALES
ROWE 47/49 (96%)
CREAK 8/10 (80%)
ROBERTS 1/2 (50%)
TOTAL 56/61 (92%)

MALAWI
KUMWENDA 49/50 (98%)
SIMTOWE 10/11 (91%)
CHIMALIRO 3/4 (75%)
TOTAL 62/65 (95%)

 

Wales making an entry onto court. Image Sue McKay/Kick It To Me Photography


 

Play off for 5th-6th: 

Uganda 54 def South Africa 48 (15-13, 15-8, 11-16, 13-11)

This match was about more than finishing position, it would also give the winning country bragging rights across the African continent as the highest finishing nation at the Commonwealth Games. History would suggest the victory to South Africa, with an average winning margin of 12 goals, and only two games of the 16 played having been lost by the Proteas – but Uganda didn’t get this message. 

It was a quick start for the Proteas, scoring three unanswered goals and maintaining that lead for much of the first quarter thanks to their clinical mid court and strong finish at the post. Uganda kept themselves well in the contest, and while they took longer to settle into the game when they did their defenders came alive and won them back plenty of ball. Once delivered to the safe hands of goal shooter Mary Cholhok it was a near certain goal. They clawed their way back level, and ended up with a two goal lead at the first break.

South Africa made changes across in all three areas of the court throughout the second quarter, all with minimal effect and Uganda continued to push out their lead. The Ugandan mid-courters gained confidence in feeding the ball to Cholhok from off the circle edge, and she was strong on the hold getting herself close to post and rarely missing. Shadine Van de Merwe from South Africa was highly penalised, giving her opponent Stella Oyela clear vision into the circle that allowed her to make smart passing choices, and place the ball out of reach of Phumza Maweni. 

Irene Eyaru at goal attack for Uganda was also pivotal, she made strong drives and demanded the ball in the circle, forcing South African defenders to make a choice between her and Cholhok. If left alone, Eyaru was reliable to post, and if defenders chose to cover her it was an easy one on one pass over to Cholhok.

Uganda pushed out to a 10 goal lead, courtesy of strong defensive work, particularly through the middle third where their repeated efforts to cover the leads of South Africa forced difficult passes that the She Cranes were often able to pick off, despite many being shorter than their direct opposition. South Africa seemed unable to find answers, with more than twice as many penalties as Uganda, and with only one gain in the first half. 

More changes were made by South Africa for the second half, with Van de Merwe moving into goal defence, as well as more mid-court shuffling. Van de Merwe got hand to ball straight away, but as had been a feature of the Proteas game they were unable to convert. Ugandan goal keeper, Shaffie Nalwanja, put out a strong performance against Iné-Marie Venter, maintaining front position and often forcing balls over the baseline as Venter ran out of space behind her. 

Just as South Africa appeared to be gaining momentum mid way through the third quarter, Lefebre Rademan went down with a nasty looking knee injury. South Africa were able to hold their nerve, winning the quarter and bringing the gap back to four at the final break with a last second shot. The final quarter saw play get messy, with several cautions handed out as tired players fought it out for the final minutes of the tournament. Uganda were able to hold on securing a six goal win, as silly errors continued to let South Africa down to the final whistle.

Uganda’s win was just their third over South Africa, and saw them with their highest finish at a pinnacle event in fifth place. This will give the team an amazing amount of confidence ahead of the Netball World Cup in Cape Town, that they will be competing to qualify for later this month. 

Meanwhile, South Africa will be disappointed with the result, despite missing key players they have spent time over the past few years building their depth but often seemed unable to find the right combinations to battle with the best for prolonged periods. Karla Pretorius and Lenize Potgieter will be welcome additions, but there is still work to be done if they want to seriously challenge for a medal next year given the current strength of the other top nations.

SOUTH AFRICA
VENTER 25/29 (86%)
van der BERG 17/18 (94%)
RADEMAN 6/7 (86%)
TOTAL 48/54 (89%)

UGANDA
CHOLHOK 31/35 (89%)
EYARU 21/24 (88%)
NASSANGA 2/2 (100%)

TOTAL 54/61 (89%)

 

The South African post-match prayer. Image Sue McKay/Kick It To Me

 

Ine-Mari Venter goes up for the ball. Image Sue McKay/Kick It To Me.

 

Mary Cholhok about to receive the ball. Image Sue McKay/Kick It To Me.

 

Phumza Maweni had the challenging job of marking Mary Cholhok. Image Sue McKay/Kick It To Me.


 

TOMORROW’S SCHEDULE:

Semi-Finals:
(UK times)

9am – Jamaica v New Zealand
2:30pm – England v Australia

 

Check out all the scores, stats, tables and draw HERE

 

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