World ranking: 9th
Previous Commonwealth Games results: 2014 (9th).
Commonwealth Games win/loss record: 2 wins, 4 losses.
After Scotland’s debut at their home Commonwealth Games in 2014, they have pushed up to their highest-ever world ranking of ninth this year. This is certainly in large part due to the influence of head coach Gail Parata, originally from New Zealand, who has been at the helm since 2013.
In Glasgow, the Thistles were an automatic inclusion due to hosting the Games and were ranked eleventh in the world at that time.
Their domestic team, the Sirens, augmented by Kiwi and Jamaican star imports, entered the U.K. Superleague in 2017, and the national side players have used this regular competition to beat both Wales and Northern Ireland more convincingly and more regularly, giving them confidence heading into this tournament.
For the 2014 Games, Scotland managed only two wins, against St Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago, neither of whom have qualified for the Gold Coast. They have a tough ask in the opening games against England, New Zealand, Malawi, and Uganda, meaning they are most likely to settle for a placing that closely matches their ranking.
Their focus will be on victory over Wales on day three, plus a good showing against the strength and flair of Uganda, then consolidating in the placing round, most likely against neighbours Northern Ireland, or Barbados.
Half of the Thistles have experience in their previous Commonwealth Games campaign, including test centurion Hayley Mulheron, a dogged defender and former Scottish captain, who returned from a season in the Australian Netball League to play for Team Northumbria.
Featuring for a second time, too, are captain and centre-court fixtures Claire Brownie, Australian-Scot and Adelaide Thunderbirds defender Fiona Fowler, shooters Lynsey Gallagher and Jo Pettitt, and midcourter Sam Murphy. Also, watch out for the skills of the baby of the team, shooter Niamh McCall, who debuted for the senior national side at age 16, just 18 months ago.
Gail Parata is more than pleased with the progress of Scotland on the road to the Games.
“When I first came here, I had my New Zealand background and had seen a lot of Australian play. I observed that a key thing with Scottish players is that they’re not tall, but they’re very hard-working. So a game of short-sharp play and fitness is key for them and I wanted to use some of the Australian man-to-man style, because playing a zone style requires rangy and tall players, which we generally don’t have.
“There was also an old-school attitude in the team, where you didn’t have to work so hard to make the national team, if you’ve always been a Thistle. I had to bring in some competition between the athletes, so they had to earn the right to be here. Those that didn’t change attitude had to move on, and the young ones coming through now have that work ethic – fitness, skill, professionalism.
“Claire Brownie, is one of the players who has really shone. When I met her she had a really good work ethic, she just needed to rise to another level. Claire now is fit, strong, disciplined. She’s come on in leaps and bounds.
“We also have had youngsters come through, including Bethan Goodwin. She is really talented and can go a long way. Having Fiona Fowler (nee Themann) and Rachel Forbes (who is injured and unavailable) come from down under has also really boosted our team, bringing the professionalism of the Australian sides.”
Commonwealth Games team
Claire Brownie (c) C/WD
Lynsey Gallagher (vc) GA/GS
Fiona Fowler GD/GK
Ella Gibbons GD/GK
Bethan Goodwin GS/GA
Niamh McCall GA/GS
Nicola McCleery WA/C
Hayley Mulheron GK/GD
Samantha Murphy C/WA/WD
Emily Nicholl GD/WD
Jo Pettitt GA/GS
Bethany Sutherland GD/WD
Coach: Gail Parata
Past five international results:
Scotland def Northern Ireland 52-31 (2018)
Scotland def Wales 52-40 (2018)
Scotland def Samoa 63-36 (2017)
Scotland def Samoa 56-39 (2017)
Scotland lost to Northern Ireland 45-46 (2017)
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