Reply To: HISTORY OF THE NETBALL WORLD CUP2020-05-06T22:13:28+10:00


Ian Harkin
    Post count: 17325

    New Zealand Silver Ferns defeat Australian Diamonds in Netball World Cup final
    Brittany Carter – ABC

    Australia are suffering heartbreak in Liverpool after losing the Netball World Cup final to New Zealand by a goal. For the first time since 2003, the Silver Ferns beat the Diamonds in the gold-medal match 52-51, with classy defence and better control.

    Having lost their last meeting to Australia in the final game of the preliminary rounds, New Zealand overthrew the hosts and favourites England in the semi-final. This was an impressive feat itself, considering they did not even place at the last Commonwealth Games.

    The opening quarter was the sort of tussle we are used to seeing from the trans-Tasman rivals and heading into the first break the score was level, 10-10.

    A similar pattern was repeated in the second quarter, with each team shooting one-for-one until the Silver Ferns got on a roll, scoring three consecutive goals in the final minute. Goal shooter Maria Folau had started slow, but improved during this period, moving from 63 per cent accuracy to 85.

    Her shooting partner in goal attack, Ameliaranne Ekenasio, also outsmarted the Diamonds multiple times, drawing both circle defenders away to leave Folau free in open space for the feed. Unfortunately Australia did not learn from this mistake and it cost them. Even the injection of Sarah Klau at goal keeper in the third quarter could not stop the momentum.

    Brimming with confidence and sticking to the dogged defence that helped them reach the big dance, New Zealand continued to test the Aussies, scoring six unanswered goals in this quarter to take a seven-goal lead in the final break. While the Diamonds fought hard in those last 15 minutes, they could not take back the lead.

    Basset scored to make the difference just one in the final minute, but a mixture of penalties meant the Silver Ferns held on to possession. The experience of their older and more capped players paid dividends in ensuring they held onto concentration in such a big event.

    One of them, Casey Kopua, who was awarded player of the match, influenced the game from the back with two intercepts, three gains and an important rebound. She gets to leave the game a hero, having played her final game in a black and silver dress.

    But Australia should be proud of their performance, especially the fight they showed in the fourth quarter to bring the difference back to a single goal.

    Wiping tears from her eyes, a devastated Kelsey Browne told the ABC it was a bittersweet time for reflection. “Coming into this I had no idea what to expect,” the midcourter said. “It’s been a huge week and I’m really proud to be part of it. I didn’t know if I was ever going to make it, so to play in my first ever World Cup I’m over the Moon. I just wish it went the other way.”

    Browne also paid tribute to head coach Lisa Alexander, who gave the team a pep talk as they stood in a huddle after the final whistle. “Lisa was unbelievable after the game, I was really drawing inspiration from her strength,” she said.

    “She came over and said how proud she was and how brave we were out there. We weren’t going out to defend a title, we were going out to win it and we knew that we had to do that. So for her to say what she said meant a lot.”

    Overcome with disappointment but remaining optimistic, she said the squad was banding together. “I’m getting a little bit emotional right now, standing up on stage,” she said. “It’s a combination of happiness that you’re here and you’ve participated in such an amazing event but also that you wanted it so badly and it hurts to have to see somebody else take what you really wanted.”

    “Although they are sad tears and obviously we’re hurting a bit right now, we’ve gone into the changeroom and the girls are getting around each other, hanging tough and sticking together because I think that’s the most important thing at the moment.”

    Despite the result and the fact Australia has now lost two gold-medal matches in the past 15 months, it is important to see the bigger picture.

    England’s hosting of the Netball World Cup has generated an enormous amount of interest in the northern hemisphere and will hopefully encourage the nation’s governing body to invest more in its UK Super League and telecast all matches.

    For the first time, four African teams made the top eight of the tournament and the fact that South Africa finished fourth will entice their crowds to get behind the 2023 World Cup in Cape Town.

    Zimbabwe — in their debut tournament — have brought so much colour and life to Liverpool and worked their way into netball fans’ hearts.

    And the Australian team has established a brilliant new squad of players that are still young and should be back in another four years with a vengeance.

    Skipper Caitlin Bassett and fellow shooter Caitlin Thwaites are the only players in the current squad over the age of 30, so it is likely these players will bounce back in the green and gold.

    Australia has long set the bar for the level of netball required to win a World Cup and they have helped develop other international players and coaches with the world’s best Super Netball competition.

    But perhaps now it is time we focus on our own national team and put plans in place to ensure we get back to being the world’s best.

    Go to Top