GS Chelsea Lewis
GA Caralea Moseley
WA Amanda Varey
C Kyra Jones
WD Suzy Drane
GD Nia Jones
GK Kelly Morgan
GS Mwai Kumwenda
GA Sindi Simtowe
WA Bridget Kumwenda
C Thandie Galleta
WD Martha Dambo
GD Joanna Hackilika
GK Towera Vinkhumbo
Umpires: Josh Bowring (Australia), Jono Bredin (New Zealand), Jackie Mizon (England) (reserve)
Malawi brought on some experienced but currently less-favoured players for their final pool clash. Sintowe in particular would look to this game to plead her case for court time in the big playoffs tomorrow.
Vinkhumbo, giving away ten centimetres of height to Lewis, used her physical presence to unsettle the Welsh shooter from a lower centre of gravity. Lewis was quite static at times when repositioning would have been to her advantage. Her accuracy was at 70% before she hit four consecutive goals leading into the break, Wales down 12-15.
Obviously keen to make the lead more comfortable, Whyte Mulilma brought on his starting seven, Chimaliro at goal attack, Lwazi wing attack, Kachilika to wing defence, Vinkhumbo into the circle and partnering with Ngwira.
Like many defenders before her, Morgan struggled to contain Kumwenda. The feeders could deliver the ball from a variety of angles, and she only missed one shot in the half. Chimaliro, too, was a big distraction, doubling Sintowe’s output and contributing seven straight. The Malawi goal cascade flowed strongly into the half time break, and not even an attempt of Jones lifting Morgan over the shot, or vice versa, made any difference.
Moseley was sidelined with a blood bin ruling, replaced by Llewelyn at goal attack. Lewis couldn’t get her shooting mojo, hovering around 75% as she had for the tournament. Malawi lead 36-28 at the main break.
Kumwenda’s experience in Australian and New Zealand leagues shone, her placement of the swung ball across the circle impeccable, her variety on the shot, or the crisp double-play with the feeders. Wales wouldn’t lie down, though, with a total of nine goals at 90% from Llewelyn, and some particularly nice access to the circle edge and quick feeds from Kyra Jones. In fact, Lwazi was subbed off in preference of Bridget Kumwenda, apparently to keep up with the indefatigable Jones. Even with Vinkhumbo contributing well at the back with two intercepts, a couple of Malawian errors and an offensive penalty from Chimaliro enlivened the crowd and encouraged the Brits, closing the gap back to the half-time margin, 50-42.
Heading into the last quarter, both teams had had 53 shots, but with Malawi’s accuracy 94% compared to Wales’ 79%. The Wales forward line started well, Varey taking the first phase easily, and all four of them ready to use rotation and snappy triangle passes. Malawi’s simple plan, high access via Kumwenda or the front cut to the deadly-accurate Chimaliro, just couldn’t be stopped. They booked themselves a playoff spot for seventh against Northern Ireland on Thursday.
Malawi 68 def Wales 53
Chelsea Lewis 41/52 79%
Caralea Moseley 3/5 60%
Sarah Llewelyn 9/10 90%
Mwai Kumwenda 47/50 94%
Sindi Simtowe 3/4 75%
Jane Chimaliro 18/18 100%
Suzy Drane, Wales Captain
“We were much more positive about this game today, and we’ve done a little bit better in terms of our Welsh style, using the speed of the ball and speed of our play. We’re pleased we brought that more, and we’ve got one final game to put that into place even better tomorrow.”
On the change of pace when Llewelyn was brought on to shoot
“Sarah naturally plays as a moving goal attack, so she was getting the ball and making the court more open, being creative, so that allowed our attack to release Chelsea at the back for an option at the post there.”
On the Welsh team connection
“This is our passion – we have day jobs, and we’re at uni some of us. It’s really nice when we work so hard, we come away, we’ve left another ten people at home who’re very much part of our squad as well, and they’re constantly messaging us, we’re still connected even though we’re across the other side of the world. I think that’s really important for netball in Wales, it’s making sure that we stay like that for the future of the game, making sure we pass on those strengths to the next group of players.”
On how the junior players have dealt with the distractions of such a big event
“They’ve absolutely welcome it! You know, they’ve been like sponges, and they’re very refreshing, it gives a good balance and a mix to our squad, keeps us youthful us oldies!
Kelly Morgan, Wales
“To be honest it’s quite unpredictable, there’s a lot of aerial ball. It’s a slower pace I guess, to what we’re used to playing. We were working really hard today to promote the ball, and we were quite lucky and we got our hands to quite a few.
On preparing to play an influential player like Kumwenda
“We’ve got a a fantastic (video) analyst who works tirelessly for us. We knew that she was going to be one of their strengths today, and actually she moves quite a lot for a shooter – so, just focusing on our game, and shutting that down.”
On the integration of new coach Julie Hoornweg into Wales netball
“We welcomed Julie with open wide arms. She’s really fantastic, come straight in, and if you didn’t know it you’d think she was Welsh until she opens her mouth and speaks with an Australian accent. She’s a breath of fresh air – she really comes up with our game plans, and we’re showing that on court, now we just need to do it for a full sixty minutes.”
Sarah Llewelyn, Wales
“It felt a lot better today to be honest. We’ve been a bit disappointed in the way things have been going, so today was good, even though it was our last pool game, to get a better performance out there. We had a good on court presence, and it just paid of in the way we played, even though we lost which is never good!”
“I defniitely think that’s part of it, we’re used to playing British teams. It’s a different game that we have to adapt to, and I don’t think we did that in the game against Uganda, but it’s a different kind of netball, which is exciting!”
“Our team is such a close-knit team that it was as seamless as it could be. I think the management did a really good job in moving us forward, and the team have just welcomed it as a positive thing. So, we’re looking forward to going back now and continuing our season.”
“Just the whole experience! I mean, you’re here with all these different athletes, and it’s just amazing seeing everyone from all over the world, all kinds of people here. You get to feel like you are up there with all the top athletes, especially as a netballer, the exposure here is brilliant. It’s huge for our sport.”