England’s march goes on

Day Six was the day the Roses officially booked themselves a place in the 2019 World Cup semi-final with their 72-46 victory over Trinidad and Tobago.

But their work is far from over.

England play their ‘bogey team’ – South Africa – tomorrow night to decide who they’ll play on Saturday and the result will tell us everything we need to know about their chances of winning this trophy.

England fans in the stands cheer on the team during the Netball World Cup match at the M&S Bank Arena

If they win, they’ll most likely face New Zealand. The Kiwis are an awesome side who’ve been trouncing teams all tournament, but they are not Australia.

Should England lose, they’ll most likely find themselves up against the world champions in a semi-final most fans would have wanted to save until the final.

Zimbabwe are smashing it on a shoestring

Day Six was the day we learned that this incredible team, who’ve beaten Sri Lanka 79-49, Northern Ireland 51-49 and Barbados 66-41, and will finish in the top eight at the very least, are doing so with next to no budget.

Sharon Bwanali (L) of Zimbabwe in action during the Vitality Netball World Cup match between Zimbabwe and Barbado

Zimbabwe coach Lloyd Makunde even popped into Liverpool city centre with £30 of his own cash to buy training equipment for the team to take back to Zimbabwe, where there is just one indoor netball court that is frequently used by other sports.

This comes after the news that his team, known as the ‘Gems’, were only able to attend the World Cup because they crowd-funded their way here.

No wonder the crowd at the M&S Bank arena are so keen to urge them on.

 

Don’t stop us now

England’s Roses are about more than just world class netball.

Day Six was the day we learned that they like to go out and indulge in a spot of karaoke to build their togetherness as a team.

When fan Carla Humphries asked them to demonstrate in the Liverpool ONE fan park they immediately responded with an impromptu rendition of Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now.

Shooter Jo Harten even jumped up to conduct although, it’s fair to say, the Roses are much more in tune on court.

Tharjini Sivalingham is towering over everyone

The much-loved Sri Lankan shooter – who stands at a whopping 6ft 10in – is the natural focus of her team’s attack and has so far taken 87% of their chances.

No wonder, then, that the Lankans’ shooting powerhouse is currently the tournament’s top goal scorer, having found the net 235 times in just five games.

Sri Lanka's Tharjini Sivalingam and Fiji's Episake Kahatoka (right) in action during the Netball World Cup match at the M&S Bank Arena

It’s a lovely turn around for the Sri Lankan star who was bullied as a teenager over the hormonal imbalance that caused her to keep growing well into her twenties.

And it wasn’t the only challenge she had to face.

Born into a Tamil family on a vegetable farm in the north of Sri Lanka, Sivalingham had to learn Sinhalese before she could talk to her teammates.

 

We promised you a Rose garden

Forget Henman Hill and Murray Mount, excited England fans have packed the Liverpool ONE fan zone to cheer their team to victory.

But the stunning turnout of Roses’ supporters did leave England Netball chief executive Joanna Adams with something of a dilemma.

What on earth do you call it?

Fans came up with Tracey’s Turf, Housby Hill, Mentor Mount, Eboni Esplanade, Serena Slope, Layla Lawn, Jade Place, Dunn Dune and even Nat Panagarry Knoll.

But nothing seemed quite right until they realised that netball, with its roles and positions, is the ultimate team sport.

Nothing but the Rose Garden would do.

England play South Africa at 8pm on Thursday . Expect the place to be packed.