Tag: rebekah robinson

What if….. The VNSL introduced the Super Shot?

THE introduction of the two-goal Super Shot to the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) has been the biggest shock to the netball community in recent history. Coaches, players and the biggest names in netball across the world have come forward with their thoughts on the introduction of the controversial rule change. But what would happen if the UK followed in the footsteps of the SSN and introduced a reward for long-range shooting?

No team would benefit more from this rule change than Wasps Netball. Renowned as the “long bomb queen” Rachel Dunn has a habit of slotting them from anywhere in the circle, and even from outside when it comes to Fast 5. She was the MVP at the British Fast 5 All Stars in 2018 and just missed out on that title in 2019 to the formidable Jo Harten. Backed up by Katie Harris and Alexia Baker, Wasps would be unstoppable if they managed to keep the score close during the first ten minutes of each quarter. With the experienced Dunn at the post, and their exciting defensive line of Fran Williams and Hannah Knights creating plenty of turnover ball, they would be back on top as the team to beat.

London Pulse’s Chiara Semple is another master of the long bomb. With good accuracy from range and the typical New Zealand confidence to post, Semple would most likely benefit from the Super Shot rule, as she typically shoots from distance anyway. With Sigi Burger standing at 6′ 5″ under the post for the rebound, Pulse could fire these off all day long. Especially given their exciting form at the start of the 2020 season, this would add another advantage to the already improving side. Another team with confidence in their attack end is Team Bath. You would expect youngster Sophie Drakeford-Lewis to rise to the challenge of a two-goal shot if it were introduced, and her connection with Kim Commane would provide a strong starting point.

Two England Roses who do not shy away from a long ranger are Ellie Cardwell and George Fisher for Manchester Thunder and Saracens Mavericks respectively. These two have such great composure on their shot and have both been going from strength to strength over the past few seasons. Whilst Fisher usually takes the majority of her shots from under the post, she is accurate from anywhere, memorably sinking one from near the transverse line in Fast 5. For Thunder, Cardwell has so much strength on the hold and knows how to create space for herself to find good mid-range shooting position. Given her skill in the circle, it would not be hard for her to transition into an exciting long-range shooter. Both of these teams benefit from strong and experienced shooting partnerships, Fisher with Kadeen Corbin, and Cardwell with Kathryn Turner, giving them the edge over teams with only young blood in the attacking end. Saracens Mavericks also have the advantage of defensive mastermind Razia Quashie, as well as tall tower Jo Trip, to scoop up any stray shots and build pressure at the back.

Both Celtic Dragons and Severn Stars have potential secret weapons when it comes to shooting from further away from the post. Jamaican import Rebekah Robinson has fantastic movement in the circle for Dragons and is a playmaker with the ability to shoot long when needed. England Fast Nets player Lucy Herdman delighted fans with her distance shooting at Fast 5 in 2019, leading Dragons to their first-ever semi-final in the competition. She now plies her trade for Severn Stars and while we did not see much of her on court during the short 2020 season, Herdman would be a valuable asset for Stars to have up their sleeve.

The remaining teams would probably struggle to keep up based on their current shooting strengths. Loughborough Lightning’s Ella Clark does have the experience shooting from range due to her basketball background, however her accuracy can sometimes falter when she is under heavy defensive pressure. Another team that would need to improve their accuracy to post are Strathclyde Sirens. Lynsey Gallagher can be a real threat, and as a shorter goal attack, she does tend to take shots from further out. However Sirens are usually less accurate than other teams on their goal conversion, and in a situation where shots are worth more than one point, this could really hurt their chances. For Surrey Storm, their issues lie in other areas of the court. Karen Bailey typically shoots from under the post, and while Sophie Hankin is a possible threat from further out, Storm would need to stay in touch with other teams to secure wins. After a shaky start to 2020 they will be rebuilding, and hopefully will have secured some of their structures by the time netball resumes.

Netball fans in the UK, like many in Australia, are generally not keen for the introduction of the Super Shot in the VNSL. Sara Bayman has been openly critical of the decision on the Netball Nation podcast, stating that the rule change moves even further away from the international game. She accused the new rule of “sabotaging your own national team” and believes it is likely to bring more bad news for the Diamonds. However, Tamsin Greenway has claimed this is a chance for netball to evolve and suggests we will see a move away from the tall holding shooter slotting them in from under the ring. Clubs in the UK may be glad this is being trialled down under and not in the VNSL during such a time of uncertainty for netball in the UK. Due to the backlash from netball fans in the UK, it seems unlikely that such a bold move would be considered, especially when the influence of broadcasters in England is much lower than in Australia.

Vitality Netball Superleague preview: Round 4 – Bath and Pulse face off for top spot

ROUND 4 of the Vitality Netball Superleague will see an unprecedented top-of-the-table clash on Monday night to finish off the round, with Team Bath and London Pulse facing off for top spot. On the other end of the spectrum, eighth ranked 2019 finalists Wasps Netball will take on ninth-placed Severn Stars in the opening match of the round in what will be a real test for Stars and a real make-or-break game for Wasps.

Severn Stars  v. Wasps Netball
Worcester Arena

In a massive start to Round 4, Wasps will look to redeem themselves from a slow start to the season, with the side sitting in eighth on only one win and two losses for the season already after only conceding the four losses overall in 2019. While the opening rounds don’t necessarily speak for the season, the Wasps will want to take advantage of taking on a side lower than them and use this opportunity to work their way up the ladder. Stars are in the unprecedented position of being only one behind Wasps on the ladder but will know not to come into this match too cocky or expectant, with the Wasps known for their cleanliness and consistency in defence. Interestingly, both sides have come up against two of the same sides at this early stage, with both teams going down to Manchester Thunder, Wasps by seven goals and Stars by nine, making for an intriguing battle if Stars can stay close. The real difference however is the sides’ different reactions to taking on the Mavericks, with Stars going down twice with big margins compared to Wasps’ four goal victory. Rachel Dunn has been the key player for Wasps this season with all attention turned toward the veteran goal shooter with accuracy and precision. Meanwhile, Iona Christian in wing attack has been a handy addition to the side, slotting in smoothly with Jade Clarke and Dunn. Stars’ Towera Vinkhumbo may not be the cleanest player but has certainly had an impact in defence, working well with Ella Powell-Davies while the likes of Ama Agbeze can enter the contest when required and have an immediate impact. In goals, Georgia Rowe has been the main target for Stars with the experience of Liana Leota in wing attack able to provide pinpoint feeds into the circle. 

Surrey Storm v. Manchester Thunder
Surrey Sports Park

Manchester Thunder will look to go four from four with a win in this match, with the potential of moving to the top of the ladder if results on Monday go their way, making this a big match for the reigning premiers. Surrey Storm on the other hand have had a shaky start to the season with only the one win on the board back in Round 1, and that was only by the one goal over Celtic Dragons. Storm’s Lorraine Kowalewska and Katy Hughes will be in for a tough one against the attacking combination of Joyce Mvula, Kathryn Turner and Ellie Cardwell, with the trio creating a massive threat for Thunder. The three shooters have combined seamlessly across the opening rounds, sharing the load in goals and all offering different options which is what makes them such a difficult opposition. In goals for Storm are Karyn Bailey and Sophie Hankin who have had a fairly solid start to the season, and while Hankin’s accuracy has left something to be desired, Bailey’s height has proven useful with her rebounding ability. The midcourt battle is set to be an interesting one with Mikki Austin at Storm’s helm, leading from the front with her agility and footwork, taking on the likes of Amy Carter and Caroline O’Hanlon, with both players able to have an impact through the midcourt. Defensively, the consistency of Emma Dovey and Rebekah Airey will be tough for Storm to break through, especially with the likes of Loreen Ngwira also in the mix and able to switch up the circle monumentally. Meanwhile, the calm but consistent effort of Laura Malcolm in wing defence is sure to keep the pressure on.

Loughborough Lightning v. Saracens Mavericks
Sir David Wallace Arena 

The match between Lightning and Mavericks is set to be a real interesting one, with both sides impressive in their own right though Lightning – just like last season – have struggled to put their skill and pressure out on the court at this early stage of the season. While the Mavericks sit in the top four on two wins from three matches, Lightning sit in seventh on only one win but having lost to ladder-leaders Team Bath and 2019 premiers, Manchester Thunder, making this a relatively even contest. Meanwhile, Mavericks have played Surrey Storm twice in as many weeks meaning they haven’t had a real opportunity to prove themselves thus far thanks to match scheduling. Mavericks’ Razia Quashie will have the tough task of taking on Lightning goal shooter Mary Cholhok, who is as imposing as they get with her height and strength making her a key cog for Lightning’s defence. Quashie is just as impressive with her aerial ability making her an exciting player to watch, able to create intercepts out of nothing and lead from the back. The midcourt battle will be a real interesting one with the sides relatively well matched through the centre, though the real test for Lightning will be stopping the likes of Georgia Lees who has a tried and true combination with George Fisher and Kadeen Corbin in goals, with the duo continuing to be a threat. Lightning will rely on leadership from Nat Panagarry through the midcourt, while Lightning’s constant defensive rotation could come in handy against a side like Mavericks which relies on poking holes in defensive units, though could also go the opposite way entirely if Mavericks can take advantage early.

Celtic Dragons v. Strathclyde Sirens
Sports Wales National Centre

The Dragons come into this match sitting at the bottom of the ladder, with a one week suspension to key pickup Latanya Wilson making for a rough start to the season. While the Sirens have only got the one win on the board for the season, it is more about their lack of four quarter effort that sees them losing so far rather than an inability to win, as displayed by an impressive effort over Surrey Storm last round. While the Dragons have only gotten close to a win in the one match so far this season, they went without a goalkeeper for part of their Round 2 encounter with Team Bath and then missed Wilson’s pressure and presence on Monday against Pulse – the current top two sides. Dragons’ Amy Clinton and Rebekah Robinson did a solid job sharing the load last round but were in short supply of ball into circle, meaning the likes of Shona O’Dwyer and Sophie Morgan will want to be right on circle edge this round against a much more even competitor in Sirens. Defensively, Wilson will want to heed the warnings she’s had in past rounds to ensure she doesn’t leave her side in the lurch again this round, while Dee Bolakoro and Abigail Tyrrell will also want to maintain constant pressure in the circle. Sirens’ Bethan Goodwin and Lynsey Gallagher impressed at the post last week with their cleanliness and ability to find the ball in the goal circle, with the circle work from Nicola McCleery and Gia Abernethy critical for the side in attack. Natalie Bright and Zanele Vimbela have created a formidable defensive unit, with Emily Nicholl a handy inclusion from the bench if need be. 

Team Bath v. London Pulse
Team Bath Arena

Wrapping up the round is one of the more exciting matches to start the season, with both Team Bath and London Pulse undefeated thus far in 2020. While Pulse had an unsuccessful start to their Superleague campaign, only getting two wins on the board in their inaugural 2019 season, the side has already surpassed last years form with three wins on the board and will look to run down an impressive Team Bath this round. While Bath made it to finals last season they had a somewhat rocky season, finding some solid form in patches but ultimately unable to push all the way. This season however they have proven considerably more consistent, winning by an average of 15 goals across the first three rounds of the season. While Pulse also remains undefeated, they only got over the line by a two and one-point margin in Rounds 1 and 2, making for an interesting battle. Pulse will be in for an interesting time against the dominant defensive pressure of Bath, with the likes of Imogen Allison, Khanyisa Chawane, Tash Pavelin and Summer Artman working flawlessly through defence to apply pressure and deny easy ball into the circle. Up the other end, the combination of Kim Commane and Sophie Drakeford-Lewis has improved tenfold since the 2019 season, making the side a real force to be reckoned with. Bath’s real problem will be limiting the impact of star Pulse shooter Sigi Burger, whose offensive pressure and height under the post makes her a critical name in the lineup. Burger’s movement for her height is impressive, making it easy for the likes of Michelle Drayne, Adean Thomas and Ashleigh Dekker to feed into the circle and run the ball down while defensively the likes of Lindsay Keable, Halimat Adio and Funmi Fadoju have put in some impressive efforts this season so far.

Vitality Netball Superleague review: Round 1 – Team Bath and Mavericks claim big victories

ROUND 1 of the Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) started in style with reigning premiers Manchester Thunder keeping the good times rolling, while last years cellar dwellers London Pulse got an early win on the board.

Strathclyde Sirens (51) defeated by London Pulse (53)

It was a tight contest from the opening quarter with only three goals separating them at half-time credit to the high intensity from both sides and desperation to get the first win on the board. A strong 12-goal final quarter all but gifted the Pulse the win doing just enough to keep the Pulse at bay. It was hard to differentiate between both teams but the Pulse made the most of their opportunities under the post sitting at 51 per cent while defensively they gobbled up 100 per cent of rebounds that came their way. Meanwhile the Sirens showcased their defensive prowess with more intercepts.

Shooting duo Bethan Goodwin and Lynsey Gallagher formed a strong partnership and although Goodwin slotted more goals with 31 compared to Gallagher’s 20 the load was relatively evenly spread. Goodwin showcased her vision as well collecting 13 goal assists and strength to take four rebounds. Through the midcourt Claire Maxwell showed her worth with two intercepts and a deflection but gave the ball away cheaply with 10 penalties and four turnovers to her name. Recruit Zanele Vimbela set tongues wagging with the highly touted South African defender picking up six intercepts and three deflections for her efforts. For the Pulse the addition of Sigi Burger paid dividends with the towering SPAR Proteas shooter nailing 44 goals proving to be a key target under the post. Chiara Semple played a good support role to Burger in the circle while Adean Thomas was impressive through midcourt. The defensive trio of Michelle Drayne, Lindsay Keable and Helimat Adio proved to be too much to handle with the three picking up six intercepts and two deflections between them.

Celtic Dragons (43) defeated by Surrey Storm (44)

A mere goal separated both sides at the final whistle with the Surrey Storm coming from behind to knock over the Dragons and secure their first three points of the season. The Dragons had all the ascendancy but let it slip right through their fingers in the fourth quarter with the Storm adding 13 goals to their total compared to the Dragons who only managed to slot another seven. The Storm had more unforced turnovers than their opponents but sat at a higher shooting percentage helping them to just sneak past the Dragons.

Amy Clinton proved to be the go-to-girl for Celtic Dragons with the goal shooter doing the bulk of the scoring with 26 goals while the goal attack position rotated between Brittany Coleman who posted nine goals and Jamaican Rebekah Robinson with eight goals. In her first game of VNSL Latanya Wilson took the competition by storm and claimed player of the match honours thanks to her impressive defensive efforts to repel the ball coming down the court and do the unthinkable with 10 intercepts, two rebounds and three deflections. For Surrey, it was Australian Karryn Bailey that led the way in the goal circle with 31 goals while both Sophie Hankin and Yasmin Hodge-England chipped in with four and five goals respectively to get their side over the line. Through the midcourt, coach/captain Mikki Austin got the ball rolling with her clever movement and impressive vision.

Saracens Mavericks (70) defeated Severn Stars (49)

It was a convincing second half performance by the Mavericks who did not look like giving the Stars any chance to work their way back into the contest. After being surprised in the opening term thanks to the Stars opening up a six-goal lead, the Mavericks wrestled back momentum and put the foot well and truly down. The Mavericks put on a show in the second quarter adding a whopping 23 goals to their total and establishing a nine-goal lead heading into half-time. That lead only grew as the match went on, eventually running away with a 21-goal victory. Accuracy proved to be no issues for the Mavs, while their defensive intent was also on display winning the intercepts battle. The unforced errors column leaned towards the Stars while in terms of turnovers the Mavericks had more.

Roses goaler, George Fisher did not put a foot wrong in her outing for the Mavs with the talented goal shooter nailing 51 goals credit to her silky footwork and strong holds under the post. Fisher provided a good release target while goal attack Kadeen Corbin got to work opening up space around her and hitting the scoreboard with 19 goals. Not only did she do the attacking role well but so too made her presence felt in defence with two impressive intercepts. Defensively goal keeper Razia Quashie was a rock down back using her read of the play to pluck off seven intercepts along with two deflections. Her partnership with Jo Trip was strong stopping Severn Stars shooters Georgia Rowe and Paige Reed any easy avenue to goal. Rowe top scored for the stars with 32 goals while through the midcourt Liana Leota used her speed to hit circle edge. New comer Ama Agbeze had her moments of magic but collected plenty of attention from the umpire with eight penalties.

Team Bath (72) defeated Loughborough Lightning (58)

After falling short of the grand final in season 2019, Team Bath came out with a real point to prove and unfortunately for the Lightning they were on the end of their scoring barrage. Bath put on the after burners in the second half putting on a 20 and 19-goal spectacle to all but seal the deal ultimately running the Lightning off their feet. It was relatively even in the first quarter with both sides working on their connections across the court but once Bath kicked into gear they could not be stopped despite not having the likes of Eboni Usoro-Brown and Serena Guthrie. In terms of accuracy, Bath was deadly under the post making the most of their opportunities. Not only was their attacking end on fire, but so too defence claiming more intercepts and rebounds than Loughborough.

Team Bath underwent a leadership change over the off-season with Kim Commane and Summer Artman at the helm after Usoro-Brown announced her pregnancy. The co-captaincy seemed to do wonders for Commane, with the Aussie goaler putting on a clinic in the goal circle with an impressive 55 goals, while youngster Sophie Drakeford-Lewis chimed in with a handy 13 goals to really punish their opponents. Betsy Creak also played a good cameo role with her four goals while through the midcourt Imogen Allison plied her trade in centre getting hands to ball and delivering well-weighted passes into the circle. Mary Cholhok was the dominant shooter for the Lightning putting up 48 goals with goal attack Ella Clark nailing nine goals but it was not enough to worry Bath’s defence end. Nat Panagarry and Jessica Shaw shared the centre position while down back Alice Harvey worked tirelessly collecting three intercepts and two deflections in trying conditions.

Manchester Thunder (62) defeated Wasps Netball (55)

In the grand final rematch it was once again the Thunder that got the wood over the Wasps with a seven-goal victory. The Wasps were never really in the match with the Thunder establishing an early lead and keeping them at arms-length throughout. Just like a well-oiled machine Manchester kicked into gear from the first whistle forcing the Wasps onto the back foot and shutting down any easy avenue to goal. The Thunder seemed to reign supreme in all areas over the court with their accuracy marginally better than the Wasps and collecting both more intercepts and rebounds than their opponents highlighting their increased hunt for the ball. Despite having a higher percentage of turnovers with 71 per cent compared to 29 per cent they managed to have an impact when they had ball in hand.

With plenty of deadly options under the post, Eleanor Cardwell got the start and did the most damage with the shooter putting on 40 goals while Joyce Mvula also showcased her explosiveness with 17 goals of her own. Kathryn Turner also hit the scoreboard with five goals highlighting the versatility they have in the goal circle. Through the midcourt both Amy Carter and Laura Malcolm used their vision and speed to have an impact across the court whether it be in defence or in transition. Defensively Loreen Ngwira was a rock picking up four intercepts showcasing her strength and read of the play. For the Wasps the tried and trusted combination of Rachel Dunn and Katie Harris lived up to expectations with the two rotating through the circle nicely and complimenting each other’s style of play. Dunn was the top scorer with 34 goals while Harris showed her worth under the post with 20 goals. Jade Clarke was strong in wing defence while Fran Williams showed her impressive footwork and defensive mindset with two intercepts and six deflections.

VNSL 2020 season preview: Can Manchester go back-to-back?

WITH the 2020 season of Vitality Superleague Netball (VNSL) set to commence on the weekend expect plenty of fireworks. After a disappointing 2019 the Strathclyde Sirens and London Pulse will be hoping to climbs the ranks while the Wasps and Manchester Thunder will be hoping to continue their reign at the top of the table.

Potential top four:

It is hard to see the top four changing too much from last year’s finalists given the limited changeover of players and the high level at which these sides played at. With the grand final loss still fresh in their memory, expect the Wasps to come out with a real vengeance and look to go one better in season 2020. They have a high calibre of players with the likes of Rachel Dunn, Fran Williams and Jade Clarke crucial cogs across the court for the Wasps making them the team to beat this season. But the Wasps will have to combat Manchester Thunder who have gone from strength to strength in recent years thanks to the plethora of talent across the court. The experience of Caroline O’Hanlon and Joyce Mvula makes them an unstoppable force while the steady development of Amy Carter and Laura Malcolm is an ominous thought. Throw in the likes of goaler Eleanor Cardwell and Manchester could be shaping up to be premiership contenders. Another possible top four contender is Team Bath who showed they have the skill to take it to the top teams but suffered from inconsistency. Bath have lost superstar Serena Guthrie with the talented midcourter stepping away but her absence will allow the likes of Imogen Alison to step up to the plate. Aussie goaler Kim Commane has proven to be rock solid under the post while the development of Sophie Drakeford-Lewis and Summer Artman could be the winning edge they are looking for. The Mavericks showed plenty of strong sings last season and once again will be pushing for a top four spot after falling just short in season 2019. New recruit Jodie Gibson could be the missing piece for Saracens with her defensive pressure and experience pairing with the likes of Razia Quashie down back. Towering goal shooter George Fisher is another key player to keep an eye on for the Mavs while sisters Kadeen and Sasha Corbin are a dynamic duo. If all things go to plan, they could quite easily leapfrog fellow teams and make their way into finals.

Finals contenders:

After making the finals last year it will be hard for Loughborough to be discounted from the finals talk given their ability to apply full court pressure and a relatively unchanged line-up. Boasting the likes of Nat Panagarry and Mary Cholhok the Lightning are a real chance to make it into the top four again but with other teams strengthening and recruiting key players may be edged out of contention. It is hard to not consider Severn Stars as a possible top four side after claiming sixth spot last season and adding the likes of Ama Agbeze, Nia Jones and midcourter Liana Leota to the fold in 2020. They have all the makings to be a high-quality side, but suffer from inconsistency, something they will be hoping to iron out this year. After finishing mid-table last season the Celtic Dragons could be in for a challenging 2020 but still have the likes of Dee Bolakoro and new-comer Latanya Wilson to lead the way in the defensive end. They have welcomed a wealth of new players into the fray with Rebekah Robinson and Shona O’Dwyer also entering the mix meaning it may take some time for the side to settle into a rhythm and really hit their straps.

Outsiders:

Despite the inclusion of South African shooting star Sigi Burger it could be another tricky year for London Pulse. Burger will offer a great target under the post with her height and strong holds while the addition of Michelle Drayne could add further star power to the shooting circle. The Strathclyde Sirens have a relatively unchanged line-up heading into 2020 and will be hoping to find better connections across the court to put out a more consistent four quarter performance. Recruit Zanele Vimbela will add a wealth of excitement to the Sirens defensive stocks while shooters Bethan Gooden and Emma Barrie have proven to be a dynamic duo when on song. After finishing eighth on the ladder the Surrey Storm will be hoping to improve their rankings this year thanks to the recruitment of goaler Karyn Bailey but could be a star player or two away from really taking it to the top teams.

VNSL 2020 team preview: Celtic Dragons

WITH the 2020 season of the Vitality Netball Superleague now upon us, we take a look at each team heading into a massive year in Superleague netball. The first team in our season preview is Celtic Dragons.

Coach: Tania Hoffman
2019 finish: 7th (6-12)

While their win-loss record may not show it, the Dragons really lifted in 2019 with six wins on the board, well and truly beating their prior record of six wins across three season. Their defensive unit was solid throughout the season with a real focus in the goal third, making the side a real competitor with improved connections and consistency to boot. 

2020 predictions:

The Dragons will hope to elevate once more in 2020 and start the season from the get-go to ensure they one-up 2019 and utilise all their new pickups. With two Jamaicans in Latanya Wilson and Rebekah Robinson joining the fray this season, both the attacking and defensive ends will have some real talent to work with. Wilson announced herself on the international stage during the Nations Cup tournament with the talented defender able to come on and have an immediate impact with her three-foot marking and deceptive speed. The side may need to keep track of their changes however, because with plenty of new names taking the court it could make it tough to develop that one starting seven line-up that they need to cement early.

Key player: Dee Bolakoro GD/GK

Dee Bolakoro was a stalwart player down back for the Dragons in 2019, with her wingspan and aerial ability a real game-changer for the side at the defensive end. With an innate ability to find the ball and long arms to scoop up loose ball, the Fijian made a case for herself in 2019 and while she is not the tallest defender out there she was able to have a real impact both inside and outside the goal circle. With another season under her belt expect Bolakoro to take her game play to another level and really become an enforcing figure down back, confusing space with her quick and decisive movement. 

Team list:

Dee Bolakoro
Abby Tyrrell
Paige Kindred (Manchester Thunder)
Amy Clinton (Loughborough Lightning)
Sophie Morgan
Rebekah Robinson (Jamaica)
Latanya Wilson (Jamaica)
Shona O’Dwyer (Severn Stars)
Rhian Evans
Brittany Coleman
Eleri Michael
Laura Burton
Lucy Howells
Annie O’Rourke

NWC19 reviews: Day 2 – Malawi, Northern Ireland and Uganda get their first win on the board

AUSTRALIA (73) defeated ZIMBABWE (37)

The result might not have been a surprise, but the way in which the losing side Zimbabwe stood up to the world number ones captured plenty of hearts across the globe. Both sides won the day before, but Australia was expected to trounce the lowly nation, and proceeded to race to an 8-1 lead early on. But from there, whilst the margin kept building, Zimbabwe’s speed and dare across the court was impossible not to like. They scored 13 goals to Australia’s 15 in the third term giving the reigning champions something to seriously think about going forward. Caitlin Bassett (49 goals from 53 attempts) was the main scorer though maligned for her 10 turnovers, whilst Gretel Tippett had 24 from 28, as well as 16 goal assists and 18 feeds. Our Player of the Game had to be Courtney Bruce who was absolutely phenomenal in goal keeper with nine intercepts and four rebounds, while Liz Watson had a game-high 21 goal assists and 27 feeds. For Zimbabwe, Joice Takaidza (15 goals from 20 attempts) and Pauline Jani (11 from 13) were the key shooters, whilst Perpetua Siyachitema was eye-catching despite 11 turnovers, notching up 12 goal assists and 23 feeds at wing attack, while Felisitus Kwanga picked up four intercepts, five deflections and two rebounds. Australia picked up plenty of whistle in the victory, meaning the side will have to adjust to the umpiring better going forward to ensure they come out on top in closer affairs.

NORTHERN IRELAND (60) defeated SRI LANKA (48)

Northern Ireland assured itself a place in the next stage thanks to a 12-goal win over Sri Lanka in the second day’s matches. The Warriors suffered a huge loss to Australia, but managed to get over the top of a determined Lankans outfit. Northern Ireland lead from start to finish, although the losers managed to reach double figures in each of their quarters, and won the last term 11-9 to show signs of improvement since the first game. Emma Magee was dominant at goal attack with 26 goals from 29 attempts as well as 11 goal assists, 15 feeds, two deflections and one rebound. Up the other end, Gemma Lawlor had eight deflections and an intercept, while Caroline O’Hanlon (22 goal assists , 45 feeds and four deflections) and Michelle Drayne (20 goal assists and 42 feeds) lead from the front. For the Lankans, it was no surprise to see towering shooter Tharjini Sivalingam do all the heavy lifting with 48 of her side’s 50 goals, whilst recording two rebounds. Chathurangi Jayasooriya was strong in defence with eight deflections, one intercept and one rebound, whilst Dulangi Wannithileka had 20 goal assists and 29 feeds as well as nailing the one shot she put to the post.

NEW ZEALAND (78) defeated BARBADOS (25)

Much like Zimbabwe, Barbados came crashing back to earth when coming up against a genuine world class side, suffering a crushing 53-goal defeat at the hands of New Zealand. The Silver Ferns showed no mercy in the big win, piling on 42 goals to 14 in the first half and 36 to 11 in the second half as all 12 players managed to get court time in Noeline Taurua‘s side. Jane Watson was phenomenal in defence – and one of only two players to play a full game – with nine deflections, six intercepts and two rebounds, teaming well with Casey Kopua (six deflections, two rebounds and one intercept), while Bailey Mes scored 30 goals from 33 attempts, had seven goal assists and three rebounds. Maria Folau was used sparingly for 21 goals from 24 attempts, rotated with Te Paea Selby-Rickett (20 from 22). Barbados’ best was once again Shonette Azore-Bruce who picked up two rebounds, two deflections and an intercept in defence, whilst Amanda Knight managed two goal assists, two feeds, two deflections and an intercept.

MALAWI (87) defeated SINGAPORE (38)

Malawi condemned Singapore to bottom spot in the pool with a massive 49-goal win. The Queens rebounded from their loss to New Zealand to completely dominate the second day’s game as every player tasted court time in a confidence-boosting win. Thandie Galleta put on a master class in the midcourt with a massive 37 goal assists, 51 feeds, three deflections and one intercept, while Towera Vinkhumbo had four intercepts, three deflections and two rebounds in the defensive goal circle. In attack, Joyce Mvula (31 goals from 33 attempts) and Jane Chimaliro (23 from 24) teamed well, as did Alinafe Kamwala (27 from 32) who all pumped out a high volume of shots. For Singapore, Sindhu Nair had four deflections and only two penalties in defence, whilst Kimberly Lim (13 goal assists, 20 feeds and 22 centre pass receives) and Charmaine Soh (15 goals from 17 assists, nine centre pass receives) were among the best.

ENGLAND (70) defeated SCOTLAND (34)

It was another comprehensive win for England who ran out 36 point victors over Scotland. Unfortunately, though the Roses will be without star Layla Guscoth who injured her Achilles during the match. Her absence will be a huge loss for England but they proved that they have plenty of star power without her with the likes of Geva Mentor, Eboni Usoro-Brown and Fran Williams all able to do the job down back. Rachel Dunn showcased her class under the post with her traditional and conventional netball style shooting 49 goals from 52 attempts. Her partnership with Helen Housby was impressive with the two finding good space with Housby nailing 14 from 16 while Natalie Haythornthwaite highlighted her versatility swapping between wing and attack goal attack slotting four from four at 100 percent. Though the game was played on England’s terms the likes of Lynsey Gallagher stood up in the goal circle with her clever movement, good footwork and accuracy to post with 13 from 14 at 93 percent. Emma Barrie also displayed her shooting prowess with 11 from 13. Defensively Emily Nicholl worked tirelessly to limit the attacking thrusts from England with two intercepts and three gains for her efforts. Her partner in crime Hayley Mulheron also applied her trade in at goal defence picking up one intercept, two deflections and a gain. But their efforts were matched by Guscoth who won plenty of ball back with two intercepts and three gains while electric centre Serena Guthrie showcased her athleticism picking up two intercepts, two gains and one deflection. 

UGANDA (69) defeated SAMOA (48)

Uganda notched up their first win in the World Cup with a solid performance against Samoa. The She Cranes skipped out to an early lead and never looked back, seeming a class above their opponents who struggled to combat the scoring prowess of Mary Cholock. The holding goal shooter put on a masterclass under the ring with her strength and accuracy to post a real feature of her game, converting 34 goals from 39 attempts. Stella Oyella also had a huge influence in the She Cranes win, making her presence felt on the scoreboard with 17 goals from 18 attempts along with 12 goal assists. Through the midcourt the likes of Racheal Nanyonga was influential finding the circle edge with ease and delivering well-weighted passes into the shooters, racking up 16 goal assists. Nanyonga also showed her defensive capabilities with one intercept, one gain and a deflection. Joan Nampungu was a rock in defence picking up plenty of ball and limiting any easy access to goal for Samoa, finishing the match with four deflections, one gain and two pick ups. For Samoa, Tee Salanoa and Sanita To’o were the shining lights with the two combining well in the goal circle to create screens and scoring opportunities. Salanoa topscored for Samoa with 25 from 26 at an impressive 96 per cent accuracy while To’o registered 20 from 25.

JAMAICA (68) defeated TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO (43)

It was a convincing win for the Sunshine Girls in their second match of the World Cup, however it certainly did not go all their way. Despite a comprehensive 25 goal victory, the Calypso Girls fought for much of the match, only dropping the ball in the second quarter when they shot only eight goals for the term, letting in 25 goals to the Jamaicans. It was an interesting fight for Jamaica, who have arguably some of the most dynamic players in the series with a combination of aerial ability and speed on their side, but Trinidad and Tobago showed a good fight to push the Sunshine Girls in the second half to keep the scoreline in their favour. It was the shooting accuracy that kept the Calypso Girls in it, shooting at a combined 84 per cent and sharing the load well thanks to a shared effort from Sam Wallace (19 goals from 24 attempts) and Kalifa McCollin (19 from 21). Candice Guerero and Rhonda John-Davis also managed the load well around the circle, with a respective 14 and 12 assists, finding the circle edge well despite the defensive pressure from the Sunshine Girls. For Jamaica, Jodi-Ann Ward was phenomenal with three intercepts, three deflections and four pickups, finding plenty of the ball as she battled John-Davis for dominance. Meanwhile, Jhaniele Fowler was the go-to Sunshine Girl at the post with 38 goals at 95 per cent, working well with Shanice Beckford, Rebekah Robinson and Romelda Aiken who also each had patches on court with a combined 30 goals. Similarly to the Calypso Girls, Khadijah Williams and Nicole Dixon shared the load around the circle with 16 assists each from a combined 53 circle feeds. It was the Jamaicans’ ability to capitalise off loose ball that secured them the victory, with 16 gains and 12 rebounds across the board propelling plenty of ball back through to attack.

SOUTH AFRICA (90) defeated FIJI (35)

South Africa put on a masterclass right across the court against Fiji to claim their second win and position themselves nicely in their pool. The Pearls simply could not do enough to stop the SPAR Proteas who had answers for everything that was thrown at them with their clever ball movement, impressive footwork and accuracy to post. The SPAR Proteas made the most of their opportunities in the goal circle finishing with an impressive 91 per cent shooting accuracy while Fiji only managed 75 per cent credit to the intense defensive pressure applied by South Africa. Sigi Burger proved her worth to the side notching up an impressive 32 from 36 while Lenize Potgieter was not to be outdone nailing 33 from 34 at 97 per cent, highlighting her ability to break games apart with her dynamic movement and understanding in the goal circle. Up the other end Zanele Vimbela absolutely dominated, amassing a whopping nine gains, six intercepts, five deflections and three rebounds while Phumza Maweni also showcased her defensive prowess with five gains, two intercepts, three deflections and three rebounds. While the Pearls struggled to combat the pressure of South Africa, the likes of shooter Lydia Panapasa stood tall nailing 11 goals straight. Asilika Sevutia showcased her versatility across the court switching between the thirds. The talented midcourt player started in centre before moving into wing attack and then wing defence, racking up the feeds while also providing strong hands-over defensive pressure to try and slow down her opponents. Defender, Adi Vakaoca Bolakoro left her mark on the game competing hard to win the ball picking up three gains, one intercept, three deflections and three rebounds for her efforts but unfortunately it was not enough to quell the star power of South Africa.