Cover Image: Danny Dalton
Due to technical issues, we are light on for photos in today’s wrap, and are working to resolve the issue. Apologies!
Group E – Barbados 55 def Singapore 50
Group F – Australia 70 def Malawi 46
Group F – Tonga 55 def Scotland 47
Group E – Zimbabwe 71 def Sri Lanka 36
Group F – England 89 def Fiji 28
Malawi defender Loreen Ngwira limped off court in the second quarter after an ankle injury she picked up during a tangle of limbs.
Happy Birthday to Scotland midcourter Hannah Leighton who turned 25.
Congratulations to Chelsea Pitman (England) who notched up her 50th Roses appearance.
As we wait for the big match up between Australia and England on day 7, it’s interesting to compare how each country has fared against the other four teams in Group F.
Australia has defeated Fiji by 69, Malawi by 24, Scotland by 40, and Tonga by 47. On average, they’ve scored 83.25 goals and conceded 38.25 for an average winning margin of 45.
England has beaten Fiji by 61, Malawi by 23, Scotland by 25, and Tonga by 26. On average, they’ve scored 71.25 goals and conceded 37.5 for an average winning margin of 33.75.
In these matches, Australia has averaged 22 possession gains and 15.5 general play turnovers, while England has averaged 19 gains and 20.25 turnovers.
So, as it stands, the Diamonds have performed just a bit better than the Roses against the other four teams in Group F. Of course, that will all mean nothing when they actually get out on court on Thursday.
Barbados was pressured throughout, but eventually won a seesawing clash against Singapore 55-50 to go to the top of Group E standings. Singapore persisted with a game plan that has worked in the tournament thus far: short sharp passes and smart decision making to open space. The Gems continued an exciting and risky style, which placed faith and pressure on their athleticism, delivering exciting aerial clashes.
Singapore’s goalers Chahal and Toh lifted their goaling accuracy markedly with 81%, and used excellent speed to consistently slip through and rotate the circle. Singapore were smart with possession, with only 10 turnovers. But it was the Bajans that found an extra gear in the last quarter, with 100% shooting and key rebounds proving the difference.
Fascinatingly, Singapore’s turnovers have trended down significantly across the tournament. They opened Round 1 with 37, then 15, 31, 12 and 9. The 31 in the middle was against the height of New Zealand, but their ball control is constantly improving.
Speaking post match, coach Annette Bishop said that Singapore had two of their strike shooters ruled out not long before the tournament through injury, which had been challenging. Singapore also lost significant match experience during the Covid period, but are still a nation on the improve.
Australia started the match against Malawi with one of their top lines, including the tall defensive combination of Sarah Klau (goal defence) and Courtney Bruce (goal keeper). Both athletes had their hands full with the Queens’ Joyce Mvula and Mwai Kumwenda, as the match ran goal for goal in its early stages. Both shooters used the backspace to excellent effect, finishing with 46 goals at 87%.
With the game played at frantic speed, the combination of Steph Wood, Liz Watson and Paige Hadley lacked defensive stopping power, although were excellent on attack.
The match ran goal for goal in the first quarter, and Australia opened up a small lead during the second until several turnovers saw Malawi level the score by half time, to the delight of local fans who were keen for an upset..
Jo Weston and Sophie Garbin were introduced in the third quarter, and while Garbin’s hold was excellent, her accuracy took some time to settle. Weston’s tagging ability was impressive and played a key role in shutting down Malawi’s scoring – they put up 26 in the first half compared to just 12 in the second.
A few errors crept into Malawi’s game in the third quarter as Australia stepped up and broke out to a 12 goal lead.
Takwondwa Lwazi continued her excellent form at centre, despite nursing a knee injury sustained earlier in the tournament.
Cara Koenen and Steph Wood were accurate at the post, finishing with 32 goals at 94%, but close defensive attention saw goal keeper Loreen Ngwira cautioned early on. She was heavily penalised before subbing off in the second quarter with an ankle injury. Ngwira returned to the match later on and was cautioned again for unduly rough play, instead of progressing to a warning. Towera Vinkhumbo moved back to keeper and was also cautioned, but was among Malawi’s best with almost all of their six gains.
One of the ultimate differences between the two sides was turnovers, with Australia keeping theirs at 14 compared to Malawi’s 24.
Tonga and Scotland each have a small but vocal crowd at every match, making this stoush even more entertaining due to the war cries and dancing. Both sides showed great heart, but it was the swagger of Tonga that brought them a 55-46 victory.
When Tonga’s midcourt hero Hultia Veve fell in the first three minutes, it made everyone’s heart leap to their mouths. Fortunately she got up and shrugged off what seemed to be a winding or a cork, rather than a serious injury..
Scotland’s footwork in defence gave them buckets of almost-wins, having 22 deflections with only two gains for the match, but Tonga Tala seemed to magically regain possession in attack, coming out with 13 pickups.
The second quarter looked better for Scotland, who made physical body checking from Tonga more apparent to the umpires. The Thistles shooters couldn’t find their normal composure, shooting at only 74 %, as cunning young goal keeper Lose Fainga’anuku caused chaos at the back and took an amazing six rebounds.
Tonga pressed on despite numerous threats from the Thistles. Scotland simply couldn’t string together enough converted possession to bridge a gap of as much as 12 goals. Tonga Tala keep making their presence on world netball felt, with their next match against world number six Malawi a critical test.
After a tough campaign so far, Zimbabwe came out with real intent in their match against Sri Lanka. Both teams have not been able to secure a win so far making the match even more important for both teams.
Nicole Muzanenamo lit the crowd up with her explosive movement and flexible splits. She was also deadly at the post shooting 13/13 at 100% by half time. More importantly it was a strong effort from the entire team. They only gave up 11 turnovers by half time, which is the best they have done so far in the competition.
The mid court of Sri Lanka has really been impressive on attack and defence. Hitting circle edge, transition, and feeding the shooters. They unfortunately have not been able to figure out a strong combination in the circle, missing the usual link between shooters.
Zimbabwe really took it home in the second half with an excellent display in defence. The defence combination of Felistus Kwangwa and rising star Elizabeth Mushore picked up 9 intercepts between them on the road to victory. Sri Lanka is yet to get a win in this World Cup, while Zimbabwe take home their first win.
Fiji had a slow start in their game against England, eventually succumbing 89-27.
Maliana Rusivakula was strong under the post for Fiji, but both English shooters were firing, with Helen Housby and MVP Eleanor Cardwell elusive in the circle and bombing them in from any range.
With England hitting 50 at half time, they looked like they might become the third team of the tournament to reach 100. However, a raft of changes, and some excellent defensive work by Kelera Nawai-Caucau and Adi Vakaoca Bolakoro slowed England’s scoring down slightly in the third quarter.
However, the wheels completely fell off in the fourth quarter, with excellent defensive work by Geva Mentor completely shutting down the introduced Lydia Panapasa. Mentor finished with six gains, while Chelsea Pitman was the most prolific of the English mids with 38 feeds and 20 centre pass receives.
Ball handling was an issue for Fiji hitting 44 turnovers by the end of the match.
It’s time for some more serious news today.
With an increase in awareness of head injuries, there’s been some discussion of match control across the tournament. Despite a number of players receiving head knocks, so far it doesn’t appear as if anyone has had to leave the court for a SCAT5 assessment, although they could have been carried out behind the scenes during breaks.
There’s also been less attention paid to wiping floors when sweaty players have had a tumble, with both examples raising safety concerns for the athletes.
In a media conference today, organisers explained some of the ticketing issues. Packages were pre-sold to fans who’ve travelled from around the world but had issues accessing their tickets. There were rumours that gold medal tickets – supposed to be part of the package – had been oversold. Carel Hoffman, CEO of Plankton Tickets said in a vague answer, “We’re joggling the allotment for the entire period. It happens, they bring them back, it’s a multi-step process. We’ve left it adaptable.”
Under further questioning she said, “It is sold out, not over sold.” However, the ticketing site has crashed again in the meantime.
The head of security, Major General Annandale, confirmed that police have received five reports of theft, involving athletes from Singapore, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago. Investigations are continuing.
While there’s been a significant police presence during the World Cup, security arrangements have been significantly tightened in Cape Town over the last couple of days. Foreign ministers from the BRICS countries (Brazill, Russia, India, China and South Africa) are currently meeting in Cape Town to discuss global issues.
Meanwhile, shootings between local gangs and some taxi drivers erupted while people were attending the last session of play. While police have reportedly got it under control, people leaving the last game, including a weary group of media, had to take extra precautions.
All of which has heightened security and, together with road blocks around the World Cup venue, has made travel far more difficult for locals and visitors.
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*Qtr Time Pod
*The Netball Show