Tag: vicki wilson

Sharelle McMahon: Pathway to the 1999 World Netball Championship

IN the second instalment of our chat with Australian netball champion Sharelle McMahon, we take a look at her netball journey and that 1999 gold medal.

PART 1 – Sharelle McMahon: Pushing the boundaries.

McMahon’s pathway to the top level went a little differently to how it goes nowadays, with the talented goaler introduced to some familiar names along the way who propelled her into the world of elite sport. 

“When I talk about my development and how I came to be in Melbourne playing netball, I have to talk about my athletics part of my story as well,” McMahon said. “I actually was lucky enough to be coached by [Olympic gold medalist] Debbie Flintoff-King for a period of time, she ran some coaching clinics throughout Victoria … out of that group of people that she worked with right across Victoria she selected about 15 of us to go up to the AIS (Australian Institute of Sport) and train up there with her.”

“So I was 13-years-old at that stage, maybe 13 about to be 14,” she said. “I was really young and it was really the first time that I’d experienced anything like being at the AIS or seeing Debbie Flintoff-King and I took an enormous amount out of getting to know her and in many ways to me it kind of opened my eyes … she can do something amazing like that, why couldn’t I do something like that. “And so for me, that relationship with Debbie although it was only pretty short-lived was really significant for me.”

Fast-forward a couple of years and McMahon went on to debut for Australia in 1998, before sinking the winning goal at the 1999 World Netball Championships to catapult her into netball stardom. 

“Being able to take it (netball) further and I guess replicate what I saw Vicki Wilson do in some ways – I remember watching her in the 1991 World Cup and I’d never seen netball played at the elite level, never. I’d kind of never even realised there was an Australian team!” McMahon said. 

“I clearly remember thinking, I want to do that. “That looks so, so fantastic. “And so, to actually be named in the team alongside her for the first time, it was kind of surreal. “It was really like what am I doing here. But it was amazing.”

The 1999 World Netball Championships final against New Zealand was littered with contentious decisions by the umpires that are still brought up even 20 years later.

McMahon ‘controversially’ entered the court during the latter stages of the third quarter of the final amidst confusion from both teams and in a physical and close encounter against the Ferns, there is plenty that was questioned both at the time and still today.

Jill McIntosh, our coach, had come over to me, actually not long before I went on the court,” McMahon said. “So, I don’t even know how long I was on the court for that in the third quarter, a few minutes, I think. “But she had come over and said to me ‘you’re going on at three quarter time so that’s what I had expected.

“I had been told I was sitting on the bench and so I had put my mind into that and was fully into that, and possibly should have been a little bit more ready to go on court because when Jill did come over and tap on my leg it gave me a huge shock to think that I was actually going out on court so that was my kind of initial reaction, and then those couple of minutes in the third quarter were a bit of a blur.”

What was nerve-wracking for spectators was amplified on the court, and while Australia was down by a solid margin by the final change, the instructions on how to turn the match on its head were clear as the teams returned to the court.

“I will never forget the feeling in the three quarter time huddle when we were down by six goals, and I think then went down to seven early in the fourth quarter,” McMahon said. “But Jill was very methodical about what we had to do and it was only a couple of turnovers is the reality of that situation. “When I talk to the girls about that we clearly remember that message from her, don’t think about the bigger picture or trying to make up the – oh my god, six goals, how do you do that – let’s break it down. It’s only three turnovers, and that is easily doable and we actually did that really quickly.”

“We were all just single minded about being able to get this game back, so you know I just threw myself into the game, probably literally, really. “And I remember Jenny Borlase screaming at me that whole quarter, ‘drive! drive!’ and so that’s what I was doing. “Wherever I was going. I was going hard and I didn’t care who was in the way or what I was doing. That’s what I was doing.”

“It was goal-for-goal for quite some time because we got the margin back pretty quickly, and then Donna Loffhagen had the ball under the post of course with only 20 seconds to go – I know there was 20 seconds to go because we had a time clock on the bench and I looked over and I remember the scores were level and I knew that it was New Zealand’s centre pass next. “And so, I fully remember standing on the court looking down as she was taking that shot thinking, well that’s it we’ve lost the World Cup. “But she missed, and what an amazing rebound it was – when I see that footage of Liz Ellis jumping up and taking that rebound, that is not easy to do. Being able to get up and take that rebound.”

“Maybe we’ll talk about some of the calls that led up to that situation, I’m not sure but then the ball came down court; did Kath Harby-Williams step, possibly, I don’t know; did someone replay the ball, possibly; did I contact when I took the ball for that last time, I don’t know, possibly! AlI know is that when Liz got that rebound, I just switched back into playing. I wasn’t fully conscious about the dire situation we were in really, because I just went back to playing. So when I took that shot, the enormity of it really wasn’t on my shoulders because I was just turning and taking a shot. I didn’t have time to think about it, I put the shot up and that was that. And it was only when the umpire signalled full time that I realised that meant we had won the game.”

“I don’t know the right way to explain how I tackle that situation but the reality is for me is that I just put everything out there, I’m not going to think about the things that can go wrong, as much as I can I just I just wanted to get out there and do everything I possibly could, so that I knew that I’d left everything out on the court and not be able to walk off thinking ‘if only I’d done that’, that was my mindset and that’s how I kind of got to that stage, I guess.”

McMahon went on to play in three World Cups and four Commonwealth Games campaigns, collecting a combined four gold medals along the way. But an elusive fourth World Cup in 2011 evaded her as injury struck.

“I had watched Vicki Wilson play in four World Cups and there was part of me that thought I would love to do that… so that World Cup that we were preparing for, that I was going to captain the Diamonds, was only three months away,” she said. 

“You know, without probably making really firm decisions on it, it just felt like the right time to retire so I was ready for that … and then I snapped my Achilles – thought actually someone kicked me, I was very angry about that – and then I turned around and realised that no one was standing there, and that was bad news.

“I think kind of post that and when all the emotions settled down, I just didn’t feel right having my final moment on the netball court being carried off with a ruptured Achilles, it just didn’t feel right.”

While McMahon retired from the international scene with that injury, she made a triumphant return to the domestic competition with the Melbourne Vixens before retiring overall in 2013.

Thanks to Sharelle McMahon and the supervising team at Parkville Netball Competitions – Joel Owen, Juleen Maxfield and Penny Carlson – for giving Draft Central access to this session.

Note – All questions throughout the meeting were contributed by the aforementioned umpiring cohort and supervisors, with just snippets of the hour-long meeting making the cut and much of the conversation revolving around umpiring.

Compare the Pair: Vicki Wilson and Lenize Potgieter

THE next instalment in the Draft Central Compare the Pair series will aim to analyse two fan favourites from different eras across the netball world, with the next showcasing game-changing goal shooters, ex-Australian captain Vicki Wilson and South African star Lenize Potgieter.

Two quality names and big ones for their respective nations, Wilson and Potgieter are both influential in the way they use the ball and while not the most versatile goalers, staying put generally in goal shooter, their consistency and ability to find the ball is and was second to none. With plenty of adaptability on the court to take on their respective tenacious opposition, their respective footwork and ability to turn a game on its head makes the crafty pair massive threats. Able to form connections with any number of attacking players, both were able to create crucial links to the circle and find the post with ease.

With the uncanny ability to not only apply scoreboard pressure but also do it from any range inside the circle, Wilson was a crucial member of the Diamonds with her clean hands and footwork. Able to evade her opposition with ease thanks to her quick wits and vision of the play, Wilson was the first Australian to hit 100 international caps thanks to her ability to be a constant threat. Her volume to post was what set her apart from other goalers of her time, racking up a constant tally and using her consistency to be a formidable option at the post. While not always the most accurate, she had that never say die attitude which led her and the Diamonds to three straight World Netball Championship titles in the 1990s. 

Unconventional in her goaling action, Potgieter is a clean and efficient goaler with accuracy and plenty of volume. Like Wilson, she is cool, calm and collected under the post, using her netball nous to adapt to the situation and apply constant pressure on her defender thanks to her ability to find the ball right where she wants it under the post. Her atypical, low shooting action sees her use her quickfire motion to evade the long reach of her defenders while her speed and agility to get into the best positioning allows her to receive the ball on a silver platter. Not the tallest goal shooter, Potgieter uses her smooth moving to be a formidable pressure in the goal circle and create a key cog for both the South Africa SPAR Proteas and her new side, Adelaide Thunderbirds.

Vicki Wilson
104 caps, 1985-1999

Lenize Potgieter
68 caps, 2014-present

Memorable Matches: 1991 Netball World Cup – Frantic final sees Australia win sixth title

WITH netball taking a back seat to coronavirus in 2020, Draft Central is taking a look at memorable matches in world netball history. Next up is Australia’s 1991 World Netball Championship triumph in Sydney over New Zealand, with the one-goal victory the start of a decade of Australian netball dominance on the international stage.

The 1991 World Netball Championships saw a new dawn in netball, with the sport getting further support and a then world record crowd of over ten thousand fans showing their support in Sydney. It was the first year that the knockout phase had been introduced, with the final four predictably being undefeated Australia and New Zealand, closely marked by England and Jamaica. One for the history books, it was also the first time an Australian Prime Minister had been present at an all-female sporting event with Bob Hawke in attendance for the first Australian World Netball Championship triumph on home soil.

New Zealand was the team to beat heading into the tournament, as the world number one nation and the most recent world champions in 1987, but Australia would stop at nothing to get the green and gold over the line. With regular wing attack in Sue Kenny unable to take the court with injury following Australia’s semi-final win against Jamaica, the side was not at its usual firepower but did not let it stop them from achieving that final goal. 

But where Australia had the drive to win, New Zealand was always one step ahead at every change, maintaining that ounce of control to lead the Aussies who, to their credit, never stopped in their pursuit. Vicki Wilson was spectacular as ever throughout, holding down the fort in goal shooter for Australia with 42 goals to her name, aided by Catriona Wagg in goal attack who did not find much of the post but was accurate when she did so. Wagg teamed up well with Shelley O’Donnell to deliver ball on a silver platter to Wilson, whose footwork was remarkable evading the tight double defence in the circle.

Wilson was threatening at the post but the likes of Waimarama Taumaunu and Robin Dillmore were relentless, rendering Wilson to a lower accuracy than she typically recorded, as Wagg’s low tally placed more pressure on the talented goal shooter. At the other end of the court, Tracy Eyrl-Shortland and Julie Carter were that bit more consistent in their sharing of the load, forming a tight attack line that Australia defenders, Michelle Fielke and Keeley Devery at times could not contain, seeing Roselee Jencke come off the bench and have an immediate impact with her vision and ability to confuse the space.

Eyrl-Shortland and Carter were phenomenal at the post, with poise and accuracy seeing New Zealand combine for 87 per cent of their attempts, as opposed to Australia’s 77 per cent. None of the four goalers were afraid of attempting the long bomb, making every shot a crucial opportunity for a defensive rebound to propel the ball back up the court.

The speed with which both teams ran down the court was impressive, with the centre battle between Carissa Tombs and Sandra Edge spectacular as both players used every ounce of their endurance and speed to evade the other, driving with precision and constantly applying hands over pressure to limit vision down the court. Where O’Donnell used her smarts to find circle edge, she was well and truly dogged by her wing defence in Louisa Wall who applied a constant pressure, unafraid of the contest, while Simone McKinnis was formidable with her speed and hands over pressure to block Joan Hodson’s vision in attack.

With the match likely to go toe-to-toe throughout, the final quarter saw neither team willing to give up any momentum. The Aussies had managed to stop New Zealand in their tracks at the end of the third, holding up an almost certain goal to ensure they were only down by the one goal heading into the final term. Overall, Australia was cleaner than the Kiwi outfit, and while the green and gold missed more attempts on goal, they also put up eight more shots than New Zealand. Add on that the Kiwis doubled Australia’s penalty count in majority of the quarters, and it’s a hard stat to look past when the margin comes down to a single goal.

While Australia had the first centre pass of the final quarter, they were continually thwarted by New Zealand’s patient approach in attack, equalising again and again to build up pressure on both teams. As the two teams continued to battle, real flair began to come out as the speed of the match lifted once more. With a two goal lead with under five minutes left to play, New Zealand only needed to maintain some clarity down the court to go back-to-back world champions, but the Aussies had other ideas, turning over on a crucial New Zealand centre pass and evening up the ledger with just over two minutes on the clock and frantic play to ensue. 

Two late intercepts from opposing defenders in Taumaunu and Jencke settled the score with under 30 seconds left in the match, as Taumaunu foiled Australia’s plans in attack before Jencke turned over the ball, and with confusion as to whether the final whistle had been blown, Australia claimed its sixth World Netball Championship title.

AUSTRALIA 13 | 13 | 14 | 13 (53)
NEW ZEALAND 14 | 13 | 14 | 11 (52)

Australia

GS: Vicki Wilson
GA: Catriona Wagg
WA: Shelley O’Donnell
C: Carissa Tombs (Nee Dalwood)
WD: Simone McKinnis
GD: Michelle Fielke
GK: Keeley Devery

BENCH: Sharon Finnan, Roselee Jencke, Jennifer Kennett, Sue Kenny
COACH: Joyce Brown

New Zealand

GS: Tracy Eyrl-Shortland
GA: Julie Carter
WA: Joan Hodson
C: Sandra Edge
WD: Louisa Wall
GD: Waimarama Taumaunu
GK: Robin Dillmore

BENCH: Tanya Cox, Leonie Leaver, Ana Nouvao, Carron Topping, Sheryl Waite
COACH: Lyn Parker

SHOOTING STATS

Australia

Vicki Wilson 42/56
Catriona Wagg 11/13

New Zealand

Tracy Eyrl-Shortland 34/40
Julie Carter 18/20

Netball fantasy teams: Commentators v. Coaches

WHILE now renowned for their presence off court whether it be behind a microphone or boundary side these commentators and coaches were once known for their on-court prowess. Both sides consist of former players from across the globe now turned media personalities or coaches whether it be assistant or head.  To be eligible to make either team they must have held a position in either role in the past two years.

Commentators:

GK: Liz Ellis
GD: Laura Geitz
WD: Bianca Chatfield
C: Anna Stanley
WA: Tamsin Greenway
GA: Sharelle McMahon
GS: Cath Cox

BENCH: Anne Sargeant, Adine Wilson, Ama Agbeze

There is no shortage of talent behind the mic with each and every player in the squad showcasing their class and talent at both an international and domestic level. Starting in goal keeper is none other than fan favourite and Australian Diamonds royalty Liz Ellis. The talented defender was an easy pick given her influence on court, long arms, ability to clog up space and come out for a screaming intercept when needed. Much like her defensive counterpart, Laura Geitz was another sure starter even though she was pushed out to goal defence to accommodate for Ellis. The former Diamonds goal keeper turned commentator was an excitement machine down back, generating plenty of turnover ball and using her impressive timing to perfection. Moving out to wing defence is Melbourne Vixens great and fellow Diamond defender Bianca Chatfield. Although typically known for her presence in circle defence, Chatfield is no stranger to the wing position with her height and long arm span doing a wealth of damage to block her opponents vision into the circle. New Zealand commentator and former Silver Ferns representative Anna Stanley takes out the centre position with the highly skilled midcourter possessing class and speed to boot. Her experience and nous on the court was unquestionable able to thread the needle with her passes and good vision while wing attack and former England Roses star Tamsin Greenway oozes plenty of game changing attributes. Arguably one of the headline duos in the team is the goal circle pairing of Sharelle McMahon and Catherine Cox. The two Australian Diamonds dynamites lit up the court with their explosiveness and deadeye accuracy. McMahon is a smooth mover, renowned for using her light and quick footwork to glide across the court while Cox can play both the holding and moving shooter with great ease. one thing that is fair to say is they hardly missed with the two making the most of their opportunities inside the goal circle and most importantly were not afraid to back themselves from range. Unlucky not to get the start was Anne Sargeant while the likes of midcourter Adine Wilson also just missed out despite pulling the bib on 79 times for the Ferns. Rounding out the team is former England Roses captain and defender Ama Agbeze with the lanky goal keeper known for her hunt for the ball, quick movement and ability to create something out of nothing.

 

Coaches:

GK: Roselee Jencke
GD: Claire McMenimen
WD: Simone McKinnis
C: Temepara Bailey
WA: Noeline Taurua
GA: Vicki Wilson
GS: Irene Van Dyk 

BENCH: Norma Plummer, Tracey Neville, Nicole Richardson

This squad is filled with some of the most recognised and highly established netball coaches at either an assistant or head coach position in the world. They range from international and domestic leagues but most importantly were silky smooth on the court. Firebirds head coach and former Diamonds defensive coach, Roselee Jencke is a star in her own right. She represented the Diamonds 43 times and was a real commanding presence down back with her hands over pressure and quick footwork to get around the body and force turnovers. After playing under Jencke at the Firebirds the now Diamonds specialist coach Clare McMeniman is set to pull on the goal defence bib. With class, defensive pressure and three-foot marking a couple of her key attributes it would be hard to go past the skilful defender. Although she was not the flashiest player it was her ability to shut down opponents with her tagging style of defence and skill to drop back into space and cherry pick passes and propel the ball back down the court with ease. Successful Vixens coach, Simone McKinnis has a firm grasp on the wing defence position thanks to her dynamic movement while veteran and now coach with the Northern Stars Temepara Bailey was a sure start in centre. Bailey is one of the most durable players able to run all day and all night, using her change of direction to full effect and delivering the ball with ease into the circle. Arguably one of the most praised coaches in netball history, Noeline Taurua pulls on the wing attack bib with the classy netballer in a league of her own when it comes to awareness and tactics. Taurua was clever with ball in hand able to see the play with ease and create space to allow attacking forays to unfold. Vicki Wilson was a key cog for the Diamonds with her precise shooting, impressive ball movement, clever footwork and versatility to switch between goal attack and goal shooter. After spending time with the Central Pulse last year, superstar goal shooter Irene Van Dyk was an easy call up. Van Dyk is one of the most accurate shooters the world has ever seen and was never fazed by the physicality of the contest. Her strong holds, incredible ability to stand and deliver from right underneath the ring and silky footwork put her in a league of her own while her high volume of shots made her the complete package. On the bench is none other than the great Norma Plummer, along with the retired Tracey Neville while Collingwood Magpies assistant coach Nicole Richardson completes the team.

Who would win?

Although there is plenty of class across both sides the defence end of the commentators’ squad is stacked with a host of game changers. Both Ellis and Geitz are renowned for their impressive feats in big grand finals or gold medal matches making them a tough challenge even for the likes of the ever-impressive Van Dyk. Throw in the tried and tested combination of McMahon and Cox in the goal circle and the commentators side has the slight upper hand given their strong connections across the court and explosiveness.

Who wins in this hypothetical battle?
Commentators
Coaches
Created with Quiz Maker

Compare the Pair: Cath Cox and Caitlin Thwaites

THE Draft Central Compare the Pair series will aim to analyse two players from different Australian Diamonds eras, with the first examining goal shooters, Cath Cox and Caitlin Thwaites

Arguably two of the most dominant goal shooters of the modern era, both Cath Cox and Caitlin Thwaites have formed dominant options to post for the Diamonds. Both champions in their own right, Cox and Thwaites may have different shooting actions and playing styles but certainly both gave the Aussies a valuable advantage in the goal circle with their respective consistency and accuracy to post. Both standing at 188cm, the two goalers were able to change up their game at the drop of a hat and both showed immense improvement throughout their time at the  top level. Off the international stage, both players provided crucial linkups for the NSW Swifts and Melbourne Vixens at different stages in their respective careers, with Thwaites still currently suiting up for the Vixens in 2020.

Cox spent 16 years in the Australian squad, with the veteran shooter debuting in 1997 and retiring from the green and gold in 2014. Cox was an agile goal shooter throughout her time on the international stage, and while she was not the tallest, she still provided a crucial target at the post with her ability to free herself from her defender with her quick feet and speed off the mark. Her footwork and split created a formidable pairing with the shooter able to find the goals with ease, while her clean hands and impeccable timing allowed her to create impressive plays. She earned her 100th test cap in 2012 – by which time Thwaites was also a member of the squad – and reached 108 caps by the time she retired in early 2014, becoming the third most capped player in Australian netball history behind Liz Ellis (122) and Sharelle McMahon (118) and overtaking fellow goal shooter Vicki Wilson (104).

While Thwaites may not have reached as many caps as Cox with 55 to her name, it was her deadly accuracy, movement and ability to shoot from anywhere in the circle that made her such a threat in goals for the Diamonds. Thwaites played second fiddle to Caitlin Bassett for much of her international career but still managed to slot into the side and have an impact when required thanks to her ability to change up the attacking third entirely. Thwaites has proved again and again an ability to thwart defenders with her agility and willingness to take on the contest, with her physicality and stellar split giving defenders a tough time going about their business and denying Thwaites at the post. Thwaites’ eight years in the Australian squad may be dwarfed by Cox’s 16 in comparison, but she had arguably just as much of an impact on the game and was a real fan-favourite for the Diamonds.

Cath Cox
108 caps, 1997-2014

Caitlin Thwaites
55 caps, 2012-2019

Memorable matches: 1999 World Netball Championships final – Australia clinches third straight title in come-from-behind win

WITH netball taking a back seat to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Draft Central is taking a look at memorable matches in world netball history. First up is Australia’s come-from-behind win over New Zealand at the 1999 World Netball Championships – now known as the Netball World Cup – in Christchurch, New Zealand, which saw Australia overcome a six-goal three quarter time deficit to reign supreme over the competition favourites. It was Australia’s third straight World Netball Championships victory and eighth title overall.

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It was a physical match from the get-go, with both teams coming into the final off the back of a tight semi-final. While New Zealand was expected to come up the goods, the Aussies put up a tough fight early with little separating the sides at quarter time. The Kiwis were clinical in the second, with shooting pair Donna Loffhagen and Belinda Colling just about unstoppable under the post, and unfazed by Liz Ellis and Kathryn Harby in defence. Julie Seymour and Anna Rowberry impressed through the midcourt, with the pair moving well through the pressurised goal third to feed crucial lobs to Loffhagen. 

The third quarter saw the heavens open for the New Zealand outfit, with consistency and cleanliness keeping their heads above water and extending to a six goal lead by the final change. Meanwhile, Australian coach Jill McIntosh was unafraid of switching it up, playing a young Sharelle McMahon in goal attack in the second half and rotating stalwart Jacqui Delaney – who had shot 12 of 18 – to the bench. While McMahon took some time warming into the match, thanks to defensive pressure from Belinda Charteris and Bernice Mene, it was this belief in the then 22-year-old that paid off, with captain Vicki Wilson (15 goals from 26 attempts) hitting the bench in the final quarter – in her final national cap – to make way for Jenny Borlase in goal shooter, with Borlase combining effortlessly with McMahon to shoot the lights out.

Australia was clinical in the final term, blowing New Zealand out of the water with an impressive 14 goal to six effort, levelling the scores midway through the term though New Zealand managed to draw back some of the momentum with the match well and truly coming down to the final seconds. A repeat toss-up in the late stages of the match is one of the more memorable moments, with little calling for a toss-up in today’s game and something that ate up precious time right under New Zealand’s goal post with little more than 40 seconds on the clock. But what the home side didn’t factor into the equation was the tenacity of Ellis, with the goal keeper leaping up to the ball and using her game smarts to propel it back down the other end. One thing Australia hasn’t lost over the past 20 years is its speed down the court, with the likes of Carissa Tombs, Shelley O’Donnell and Peta Squire racing down the court with ball in hand with McMahon fortunately on the end of it and unaware of the clock ticking down. 

It was a real combination of youth and experience that brought home the win, with Ellis dominating with her physicality dialling up a notch in the final quarter, sending Loffhagen flying and using her strength to bat the goalers away for the rebound. While McMahon only shot the six goals from eight attempts, her impact out on court far outweighed her volume and quick hands to feed to Borlase, who shot nine from 13 in the final quarter alone. For New Zealand, Loffhagen was impressive holding up for 30 goals but was unable to maintain accuracy in the last quarter, missing crucial chances to level scores or take the lead. 

This was both Wilson’s and Tombs’ last match for Australia, with both players retiring on the ultimate high following the 1999 victory.

NEW ZEALAND 13 | 10 | 11 | 7 (41)
AUSTRALIA 13 | 8 | 7 | 14  (42) 

STARTING SEVEN

New Zealand

GS: Donna Loffhagen
GA: Belinda Colling
WA: Anna Rowberry
C: Julie Seymour
WD: Lesley Nicol
GD: Belinda Charteris
GK: Bernice Mene

BENCH: Adine Harper, Teresa Tairi, Sonya Hardcastle, Lorna Suafoa, Linda Vagana
COACH: Yvonne Willering

Australia

GS: Vicki Wilson
GA: Jacqui Delaney
WA: Shelley O’Donnell
C: Carissa Tombs
WD: Peta Squire
GD: Kathryn Harby-Williams (Nee Harby)
GK: Liz Ellis

BENCH: Jennifer Borlase, Sharon Finnan, Janine Ilitch, Sharelle McMahon, Rebecca Sanders
COACH: Jill McIntosh

SHOOTING STATS

New Zealand:

Donna Loffhagen 30/42
Belinda Colling 11/20

Australia:

Vicki Wilson 15/26
Jacqui Delaney 12/18
Jenny Borlase 9/13
Sharelle McMahon 6/8

World Cup region preview: Oceanic

IN the lead-up to the Netball World Cup starting July 12, we are previewing each of the automatic qualifiers individually, and then looking at each region’s qualification path’s to the sport’s highest ranked international tournament. In today’s region preview, we take a look at the Oceanic region, which saw Samoa and Fiji both make it through to the World Cup. The two sides were among the first to qualify, given the Oceanic region qualifiers took place in April last year – three months after the Europe region, but prior to the remaining three regions.

A relatively simple region, five teams battled it out in a Round Robin settling across five rounds, with one team having a bye each round. Fiji and Samoa competed against Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea and Tonga in what was a relatively tight qualification process compared to others. Aside from Tonga’s disappointing 36-point defeat to Cook Islands in the dead rubber, even they were competitive against the top sides despite not coming away with a win. Fiji were the most dominant side coming into the final day, but Samoa got the job done to finish on top courtesy of a 54-43 victory to upset the higher ranked nation. Neither side is expected to make a splash at the Netball World Cup, but both have incredibly knowledgeable coaches who will have their respective teams fit and firing.

Results:

1st Samoa (4-0, +42)
2nd Fiji (3-1, +39)
3rd Cook Islands (2-2, +17)
4th Papua New Guinea (2-2, -27)
5th Tonga (0-4, -71)

World Cup previews:

Samoa

Coach: Frances Solia
World Ranking: 15
Best Result: 6th
Predicted: 14th

Samoa should head to Liverpool proud of making the final 16, but have a tough road ahead with a strong Group D that will see them struggle to move through to Preliminary Stage Two. They are the only side that has to face three top 10 teams in the opening stage, with England, Uganda and Scotland all expected to advance further down the track. The Roses in particular will be simply too good for most sides – perhaps all in the end – whilst Samoa has the best chance against a Uganda side if they can restrict the abilities of Sunshine Coast Lightning star, Peace Proscovia. There are two factors that might make it possible for Samoa to cause an upset, which are the culture, and the coach. Frances Solia is a former netballer who was a member of the successful Samoan World Cup side that reached sixth and now she takes the reigns as the leader in a group of players who are passionate about the sport and competing at the highest level. Two of Samoa’s key players are up the defensive end with the experienced Rachel Rasmusson and Geraldine (Gene) Solia-Gibb able to fill out the key defensive roles against the likes of Jo Harten and Helen Housby. Rasmusson has ANZ Premiership experience, while co-captain Solia-Gibb will show leadership on and off the court. Up the other end, Auteletoa (Toa) Tanimo is a rock in the goal circle, able to hold her ground and will be aided by young star, Tahnyshavaughn Salanoa who has been playing for City West Falcons in the Victorian Netball League (VNL) against some quality past and present Australian stars. Finally, other co-captain Brooke Williams will use her knowledge from being involved in netball in both New Zealand and Australia – where she currently resides – to ensure the feeds through to Tanimo and Salanoa are on point and accurate to give Samoa the best chance of an upset victory.

World Cup previews:

Fiji

Coach: Vicki Wilson
World Ranking: 12
Best Result: 6th
Predicted: 15th

Like Samoa, Fiji are in a similar boat in the sense that they will be up against it in terms of their group with matches against South Africa, Jamica and Trinidad and Tobago in the Preliminary Stage. It is a tough draw for coach Vicki Wilson OAM who is an Australian netballing icon, having represented Australia for 15 years and earned 104 caps having also played for the Queensland Firebirds, a side she went onto coach for four seasons. Wilson was a member of Australia’s triumphant World Cup winning sides in 1991, 1995 and 1999, so she knows exactly what it takes to win in England. She leads the Oceanic nation having prepared them perfectly with lead-up practice games in Australia after finishing second in the region qualification. Fiji’s attacking end is quite strong for a less renowned nation, with key players across the goal circle and wing attack. Matila Vocea is a young up-and-coming star who keeps getting better and is one who can play in either goaler role. A late bloomer, Vocea is just 19-years-old and stands at 180cm. She is yet to play an international game, but is one of five teenagers in Pearls’ squad and could be the Pearl in the rough for Wilson. The coach has a distant connection to Vocea, having played against her Vocea’s mother – Vasiti Setuata – at the 1991 World Cup. Fellow teenage goalshooter Lydia Panapasa has only earned three caps herself, but at 192cm, she is likely to cause more than a few headaches for opposition defenders. In wing attack and across the whole midcourt is Asilika Sevutia, who is incredibly nimble and has laser passes, with the 30-year-old having good vision to fire into the goal circle to give her young teammates best chance of putting ball to post. As vice-captain and one of only two players above the age of 26, she will be looking to assist captain Unaisi Rauluni who will be the main feature in the Pearls’ goal circle. While it is tough to see them progressing too far, an upset win over Trinidad and Tobago is the Pearls’ best chance of moving through to the next stage, where they will likely face Scotland and Uganda, and of course the host nation, England.