The 2019 Netball World Cup has moved into the second preliminaries stage, with each team to play three games from Monday to Thursday.
On day four, the first day of the second round of preliminaries, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa continued their winning ways, while there was a much-anticipated match-up between England and Jamaica.
Malawi beat Northern Ireland by three goals, Sri Lanka dominated Singapore, Uganda just got over the line against Trinidad and Tobago and it was a thrilling finish in the clash between Fiji and Samoa with Samoa getting the win by a single goal with Fiji’s valiant efforts to get a match-tying goal in the final seconds just falling short.
Australia v Barbados
Australia continued its ruthless form as it opened its Group F campaign with a dominant 91-22 win over Barbados.
The Diamonds were heavy favourites entering the game after they topped Group A in preliminaries stage one, while Barbados finished third in Group B after only picking up one victory.
Despite a promising shooting start for Shonica Wharton and Sheniqua Thomas, Barbados began to struggle to make their shots with Thomas converting just one of her next four goal attempts.
Australia was having no such problems, and Caitlin Bassett in particular had a strong opening quarter as she shot at 100 per cent. That was backed up by Steph Wood, who added eight goals as the Diamonds finished the quarter with a 23-5 lead.
Despite Barbados scoring the first goal of the second period, the Diamonds registered the next 21 goals without reply to build on their lead. Barbados was finding it difficult to progress the ball through the thirds as the Diamonds suffocated them defensively, limiting their space.
Their goal drought lasted nearly 12 minutes before Wharton scored their second and final goal of the quarter as Australia’s advantage grew to 46-7 at half-time.
The third quarter continued with more Australian dominance as they kept the scoreboard ticking and increased their lead. Clinical shooting from Caitlin Thwaites and fellow substitute Gretel Tippett saw the pair score all 25 of their goal attempts in the quarter as the Diamonds stretched their lead to 71-15.
Australia was too strong and romped to its fourth consecutive victory of the tournament. The result puts Australia in a great position to finish in the top two of Group F and advance to the final four of the competition.
Australia is back in action against Malawi on Tuesday in Liverpool before a rest day and then rounding out the second stage of the preliminaries with a much-anticipated clash with New Zealand.
Jamie-Lee Price: Having played at WD during the opening three games of the World Cup, it was a change of position for Jamie-Lee Price against Barbados as she came on in the second half at C. Strong and fast through the mid-court, Price was a vital link through the middle as Australia unleashed some devastating ball movement. It was a strong performance with the Diamonds once again working different combinations, although they were never tested by the Bajan Gems.
Caitlin Bassett: Caitlin Bassett started on court in GS for the match against Barbados, again working in tandem with former Lightning teammate Steph Wood at GA. It was a ruthless display by the duo as they shot 46 goals in the first half. Bassett shot at 87 per cent with 26/30, splitting the workload almost exactly evenly with Wood (20/23).
England v Jamaica
A true captain’s display from former GIANT Serena Guthrie inspired England to a crucial win over Jamaica.
Despite the faultless shooting of Jamaica’s Jhaniele Fowler, England produced an exceptional third quarter to power them to a 56-48 victory over the Sunshine Girls.
The atmosphere inside the M&S Bank Arena went up a notch for the first game of the second round as the teams went goal-for-goal. England stretched their lead out to four, but Fowler’s strength and composure in the circle ensured Jamaica found a way back.
The Sunshine Girls took the lead for the first time late in the second half, but wonderful work by first Guthrie then Geva Mentor once again wrestled momentum back for England.
A blistering start to the third quarter stretched England’s lead out to five but Jamaica, however, again came back, with their defence put increasing amounts of pressure on England’s attack and slowing proceedings down.
Via improved shooting from Harten and one particularly impressive piece of play from Jade Clarke, England again began to build a lead. Sloppy play from Jamaica and increased space in the circle for Harten and Housby saw England race to a 36-44 lead at the end of the third quarter, a period of the game which would turn out to be decisive.
The eight-goal win edges the Roses closer to the semi-finals and puts Jamaica’s final four hopes in real doubt.
England have a rest day before taking on Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday. They then play South Africa to round out the second stage of the preliminaries.
Jo Harten: For the first time this tournament, England kept their same starting seven for the entire match, backing them in as the Jamaicans pressed again and again. Harten started in GS and stayed there, working in combination with Helen Housby in what seems to be the Roses’ preferred shooting combination. Slightly less accurate than in the early pool games, Harten still shot at 90 per cent to sink 27/30 with the even distribution between Harten and Housby (who shot 29/34) looking to be a strength as the competition heats up.
- Australia v Malawi, 2am AEST (Wednesday)
- Tuesday: Fiji v Singapore, Sri Lanka v Samoa, Northern Ireland v New Zealand, Zimbabwe v Barbados