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Jamaica outclass SA as England, Uganda and Tonga wrap up victories

Hosts South Africa were handed their first loss of the Netball World Cup 2023 in Cape Town on Sunday, as Jamaica secured top spot in Group C. England topped Group B with victory over Scotland while Uganda and Tonga also recorded victories to ensure their progress to the second round of the preliminaries which starts on Monday.

ENGLAND 62 – 37 SCOTLAND

Group B leaders England took on Scotland for the 10th time at a Netball World Cup on Sunday afternoon in Cape Town and comfortably made it a perfect 10 out of 10 against the Thistles.

Coming off a good win against Barbados a day earlier, the Scots headed into the clash against a side ranked seven places above them full of fire. They managed to inch ahead at the start and were 3-4 up at one point, but a run of six unanswered goals from England saw the Roses levelling matters and then surging ahead. They took that five-goal lead into the first break.

England’s Olivia Tchine and Helen Housby effectively built on that lead in the second quarter as Scotland squandered several opportunities through basic errors. There was some concern as England centre Imogen Allison left the court in the final minute of the first half with what looked like a knock to the shoulder.

The third quarter was a good one for Scotland with several promising passages of play as they enjoyed more ball and put the English under a little more pressure.

But ultimately, although England’s scoring rate wasn’t as high as in their previous matches, they remained in control of proceedings and passed a memorable milestone in the third quarter, Tchine slotting in England’s 8000th goal in Netball World Cup history.

Their 62-37 victory saw England through to the second preliminary stage at the top of Group B with Scotland also progressing as the third-placed side in the group.

England wing attack Chelsea Pitman was named Most Valuable Player and said: “It’s amazing. I didn’t shy away from the fact that this was a goal of mine, to work my way back into the Roses and get to the World Cup so to be here and just be around the girls and feeling this environment is something really special… so I’m just a happy chappy.”

Speaking about England’s progress to the next stage, Layla Guscoth added: “It’s been a good three games. It’s been three completely different styles so I think that’s prepared us well going through to the next phase of things. I think it’s just about building, there’s nothing new that we need to do going into these two phases. It’s just about reflecting on what we’ve done and keep building and pushing towards the end goal.”

Scotland coach Tamsin Greenway, who represented England at three Netball World Cups as a player, said: “I’m really pleased if you understand what our processes are. We know our journey. We came here to challenge Malawi and we did it. We came here to beat Barbados and we did it. We came here to practise against England and learn and we did that.

“We’ve made improvements from 2019, we put into place some things I needed to fix from our last two games… we did all those things so I’m very happy.”

SCORES

Q1: 14-9

Q2: 31-18 (17-9)

Q3: 46-29 (15-11)

Q4: 62-37 (16-8)

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Chelsea Pitman (England)

UGANDA 74 – 33 TRINIDAD & TOBAGO 

It may not have been as clinical as they wanted it to be, but Uganda nevertheless outclassed Trinidad & Tobago 74-33 at the Netball World Cup 2023 in Cape Town on Sunday.  

On Saturday, eight-ranked Uganda went toe-to-toe with defending world champions New Zealand, only losing by 10 points. They scored a historical win over South Africa at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, relegating the Proteas to sixth position.  

The Ugandans started Sunday’s match without shooter Mary Cholhok, at 2.01 metres the second tallest player in Cape Town, instead opting for Christine Namulumba and Irene Eyaru in the circle. Cholhok recently was the leading goal scorer in the UK Netball Super League, scoring 908 goals at an average of 50 per match.  

Trinidad and Tobago got the scoreboard going, pouncing on a few loose balls from Uganda and they managed to grab an early lead within the opening minutes. Sloppy work in midcourt by the Calypso Girls, however, saw the She Cranes getting on track to equalise and then build some breathing space. They held a narrow three-point lead after the first quarter. 

Cholhok moved in under the pole for the second quarter while Shaffie Nalwanja (wing defence) switched places with Christine Nakitto (goal defence). Cholhok teaming up with Eyaru proved to be the right decision as both made sure of their shots to put points on the board and put Uganda 33-18 in the lead at halftime.  

Initially it looked like Uganda was slowing down the pace of play considerably at the start of the third quarter, possibly a tactical decision to conserve energy for the next round of matches. However, the all-important third quarter turned out to be the She Cranes’ highest scoring one with 21 goals scored.  

In the last 15 minutes Uganda simply drove it home with clinical precision. They did the basics well and moved the ball down court with ease as Trinidad and Tobago ran out of gas.  

Uganda’s Irene Eyaru was named the Most Valuable Player of the match. As goal attack she scored 18 out of 19 goals. In the third and fourth quarters, she played wing attack. 

Speaking after the match, She Cranes goalkeeper Haniisha Muhameed said her side are ready for the rest of the tournament. 

“We wanted to win today, so we now have to go and do it, we are ready for it, mentally and physically. Every time you have the opportunity to go out there and play, it’s a good feeling. We are looking forward to the rest.” 

SCORES: 

Q1: 14 – 11 

Q2: 33 – 18 (19-7) 

Q3: 50 – 27 (21-9) 

Q4: 74 – 33 (20-6) 

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Irene Eyaru (Uganda) 

JAMAICA 67 – 49 SOUTH AFRICA

In the most hotly anticipated showdown of the first stage of preliminary matches, hosts South Africa faced off against Commonwealth Games silver medallists Jamaica to determine which side would top Group C.

In a surprise move, South Africa’s Lenize Potgieter was included in the starting seven, taking to the court for the first time in the tournament, with both knees heavily strapped.

It was a nervous start for both sides with possession changing hands three times before the opening goal was scored by Jamaica. The Sunshine Girls edged ahead in the opening minutes before the Proteas levelled at 8-all and then took the lead for the first time soon after. But some silly errors from the home side proved expensive and the Jamaicans capitalised to take a four-goal lead into the first break.

The Sunshine Girls then began to dominate in the second quarter, easily finding goal shooter Jhaniele Fowler in the circle and the Proteas soon found themselves nine goals down.

Despite massive encouragement from Potgieter, Elmeré van der Berg looked somewhat overwhelmed at goal attack and was soon replaced by the more confident Nichole Taljaard. Her introduction had an immediate impact and the Proteas worked hard to close the gap, but they were still eight goals down at halftime.

The error count continued to rise for the South Africans in a disastrous third quarter, allowing the Jamaicans to take an even firmer grip on the game. The Sunshine Girls defence was particularly effective in preventing Potgieter from getting any ball in the circle and with five minutes remaining in the quarter, the South Africans had scored just one goal. The damaging third period for the hosts finished 20-3 in favour of the Caribbean nation.

Ine-Mari Venter was brought on to replace Potgieter at goal shooter for the final quarter and Shadine van der Merwe at wing defence while captain Bongi Msomi returned to centre. It was a better 15 minutes from the South Africans, who actually won the quarter by five goals, but that did little to dent the massive gap that the rampant Jamaicans had built by then.

The 67-49 win sees Jamaica progressing to the second stage of the preliminaries top of Group C, so providing a potentially smoother path to the semifinals.

Jamaican defender Jodi-Ann Ward was duly rewarded for her efforts by being named Most Valuable Player.

Speaking after the match, Jamaica’s assistant coach Keyan Murdock said: “We are pretty pleased in terms of the overall performance. The third quarter was impressive but I know we were playing a quality team so we expected the challenge that came from them. The final score doesn’t reflect how hard the game was so kudos to the South Africans in terms of how hard they played.”

South African captain Bongi Msomi remained positive after the match, saying: “It’s always best to play in front of your home crowd but mostly I’m pleased with how we started. The girls really stood strong.

“There were a few patches where we could have been better… I think this is a lesson. The World Cup doesn’t stop today. Yes, there are couple of tough games that we are going to come up against but if we can put together some of the great performances we had today, I think we can look forward to what’s next.”

SCORES

Q1: 16 – 12

Q2: 32 – 26 (16-14)

Q3: 52 – 29 (20-3)

Q4: 67 – 49 (15-20)

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Jodi-Ann Ward (Jamaica)

TONGA 55 – 46 ZIMBABWE  

Not even a passionate group of Zimbabwean fans staying on their feet, singing and dancing throughout the match could prevent the Gems from suffering a 54-46 loss against Tonga at the Netball World Cup 2023 in Cape Town on Sunday. 

For the African team it was their third successive defeat while Tonga added Sunday’s win to their victory over Fiji on the opening day of the tournament. They lost to Australia on Saturday.  

Tonga shooter Cathrine Tuivaiti came on court in the last minutes of the match. She is representing her third country having previously played for Samoa and New Zealand. This is her second World Cup after playing for Samoa at the 2007 tournament in Auckland. 

Zimbabwe initially created brilliant attacking moves with the ball landing in the circle regularly and with shooters Sharon Bwanali and Tafadzwa Matura scoring at 100 per cent. The Gems’ sharp passing put added pressure on the Tongan defence and they took an early lead. However, the Talas then started dishing out some of the same medicine and ended the first quarter three goals ahead.   

The next 15 minutes saw the momentum stay with Tonga as defenders Mo’onia Gerrard and Kelea Iongi made it difficult for the Zimbabwean attacking players to create openings. Tonga’s mid-court players further took control of the game. The Gems did manage to pull it back somewhat in the last minutes before halftime, but Tonga went into the break still leading 27-24. 

The second half of the match was a seesaw battle. The Gems continued applying pressure on Tonga as the Islanders were trying to move through the court and feed the ball into their goal circle. Tonga’s shooters however remained composed and made sure of the chances to score that did come their way.  

As the final 15 minutes began, Zimbabwe found themselves trailing by nine goals. They tried to stage a comeback and cause a possible upset against a team ranked six places higher on the latest world rankings. The clock however was against them.  

Zimbabwe assistant coach Wisdom Shinya said their failure to maintain the early pressure on their opponents is what cost them the game. 

“It was an issue of mental fitness and also endurance, it’s coming up now to a point where the players are tired. We tried whatever we could have done but it wasn’t our day.” 

According to Shinya, his side need more exposure on international level to be more competitive.  

“We need to play more friendlies, not only with the African teams, we need to play against the big giants so that we can adjust to their level of play. Our players need to be out there.” 

SCORES 

Q1: 14 – 11 

Q2: 27 – 24 (13-13) 

Q3: 42 – 33  (14-9) 

Q4: 55 – 46 (13-13) 

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Kelea Iongi (Tonga)