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SA thrill home crowd with convincing victory as England cruise and Scotland claim first win

Hosts South Africa claimed an emphatic victory over Sri Lanka while world No. 3 England had no trouble in getting past the Malawi Queens at the Netball World Cup 2023 in Cape Town on Saturday. In other matches, Scotland earned their first win of the tournament with victory over Barbados while Trinidad and Tobago did the same against Singapore.

SOUTH AFRICA 87 – 32 SRI LANKA

Taking to the court in brightly coloured Ndebele-inspired dresses with the stands in the Cape Town International Convention Centre packed with enthusiastically cheering local fans, South Africa crushed Sri Lanka 87-32 at the Netball World Cup 2023 on Saturday.  

The South African starting line-up looked a little different from the one that beat Wales a day earlier. Elmeré van der Berg got another chance, this time moving to goal shooter, with Nichole Taljaard moving to goal attack. Izette Griesel started on centre in the place of Khanyisa Chawane and Nicola Smith got the nod at goalkeeper ahead of Karla Pretorius.  

For Sri Lanka, there was no Tharjini Sivalingam, who, at 2.06 metres is the tallest player at this year’s World Cup. At the age of 44, she is also the oldest.  

South Africa shut out any Sri Lankan playmaking from the get-go while stamping their authority on proceedings. The Proteas’ opponents were frustrated with their inability to have any say in the one-sided match, with wing defence Bhashini De Silva copping a caution towards the end of the first quarter. 

Sri Lanka could not score consecutive goals as especially Griesel managed to intercept numerous balls. Griesel, playing in her third Netball World Cup, had a solid game at centre, and the same went for Jeanté Strydom who made her Proteas debut against Wales. She deservedly walked away with the award for most valuable player. South Africa went into the halftime break 45-18 up. 

Pretorius earned her 100th cap for South Africa when she came on in the third quarter, replacing Shadine van der Merwe at goal defence. Captain Bongi Msomi also got a well-deserved break with Chawane putting on the centre bib and Griesel moving to wing attack.  

The Proteas piled even more pressure on Sri Lanka, adding 23 goals in the third quarter and stretching their lead to 44. 

In the last 15 minutes, Ine-Marie Venter, the most valuable player against Wales, assumed the goal shooter position, earning her 50th cap while Phumza Maweni came off the bench to resume her defensive partnership with Pretorius.  

With nine minutes to go, South Africa stretched their lead to 50 points for the first time. They then seemed to take their foot off the pedal somewhat with the victory secured and not wanting to risk serious injury ahead of what promises to be a pulsating affair against Jamaica on Sunday. 

Pretorius said it was fantastic celebrating a milestone like a 100th cap for one’s country on home soil as well as in front of family and friends.  

“The highlight of my career must be the 2019 World Cup where I got the player of the tournament award. And then earlier this year the Quad series [against New Zealand, Australia, England] when I returned after having my daughter Kara, putting in the hard work to get out on court again,” she said. 

A beaming Strydom said she’s never felt prouder in her life. 

“I’m sitting here next to three legends of the game, 100 caps and 160 caps [for Pretorius and Msomi] and Norma on her 100th win yesterday. With me only on two caps, this is the best feeling in the world, and I can’t actually describe how I’m feeling, it’s overwhelming.” 

SCORES: 

Q1: 24-9  

Q2: 45-18 (21-9)  

Q3: 68-24 (23-6)  

Q4: 87-32 (19-8) 

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Jeanté Strydom  

SCOTLAND 53 – 44 BARBADOS

Scotland and Barbados faced off at the Netball World Cup for a seventh time in the tournament’s history with both sides chasing their first win of the 2023 event in Cape Town. Their previous head-to-head record stood at 4-2 in favour of the Bajans but Scotland closed that gap with a 53-44 victory on Saturday.

Barbados had suffered a 29-90 loss at the hands of England while Scotland were edged out 49-55 by Malawi after the African nation staged a massive comeback in their clash on the opening day of the tournament on Friday.

While both teams struggled slightly to find their rhythm in the opening period, a run of five unanswered goals at the end of the quarter saw the Scots taking an 11-8 lead into the first break.

A slicker performance from the Bajan Gems with fewer errors meant they were able to level matters in the second quarter, however, with the teams all square on 23-all by halftime.

Just like they did in their game against England a day earlier, Barbados lost some focus in the third quarter, and Scotland took advantage – producing several solid periods of play to build up a five-goal lead.

With their noses in front and the prospect of a first victory of the tournament in sight, the Scots managed to extend that advantage in the final quarter to wrap up a 53-44 victory.

After notching up a 93.5 per cent shooting average, Scottish goal attack Niamh McCall was named Most Valuable Player.

Speaking about how her side managed to bounce back after a heartbreaking loss to Malawi a day earlier, McCall explained: “To be honest, we did have that chat and it was a case of drawing a line and saying today is a new day. It was important that we got the win today because that’s what we came here to do was win, so I’m really happy and proud of our team performance.”

As for the MVP award, she added: “It’s really difficult getting the award because I feel like that was a full team performance but I can’t not be happy with my stats compared to yesterday… I’m really happy that I was able to step up and shoot them in today.”

Barbados wing attack Sasha Corbin, who together with her sister Kadeen previously represented England, was devasted by the result, saying: “I think we showed fight today. We definitely took some good stuff from the game yesterday against England.

“I think that last bit we didn’t push on and we didn’t always have the options. We just struggled a little bit on that but you can’t fault the defence. We tried so hard to get ball, we tried to look after turnovers. We’re just gutted, to be honest.

“We need to look after our possession and today we fell short and threw some annoying passes away, silly errors so I’m pleased with how we came out fighting but we now need to learn how to finish games properly.”

SCORES

Q1: 11-8

Q2: 23-23 (12-15)

Q3: 38-33 (15-10)

Q4: 53-44 (15-11)

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Niamh McCall (Scotland)

ENGLAND 62 – 39 MALAWI

In the fifth meeting between England and Malawi at a World Cup, the Roses made it five out of five when they beat the Queens 62-39 in Cape Town.  

England was fresh off a massive 90-29 win over Barbados on Friday while Malawi scored a come-from-behind victory over Scotland. Before Saturday, the last time the two squads faced each other was at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. The Roses dominated throughout the match then and comfortably beat Malawi 66-41.  

Saturday’s match kicked off with England unable to convert their first centre pass, and Malawi capitalised on this opportunity, securing an early lead. A familiar face for fans of the Netball Super League in the UK was Malawi goal shooter Joyce Mvula who previously played for Manchester Thunder.  

England seemed to be caught off guard by their opponents’ skilful play through the court, with the African side remaining within touching distance and finishing the first quarter only two goals behind. In the next 15 minutes, however, mistakes began creeping into Malawi’s general play, granting the Roses some breathing space and relief. The score at halftime was 29-20 in favour of England.  

As the second half got under way, it was clear England managed to overcome their rocky start to the match with a much-improved performance. Their defensive end found stability with the reliable combination of Geva Mentor and Layla Guscoth. The experience of these two players added a sense of assurance to their performance. 

In the third quarter, the umpires called time when Malawi centre Takondwa Lwazi took a significant fall and went down in a heap of pain. Her teammates helped her off court and it seemed it was the end of the match for her. She did however return in the last 15 minutes.   

England pulled away in the third quarter, outscoring Malawi by 10 goals and at the same time not allowing their opponents to score more than twice in succession. The Queens regained some ground in the last 15 minutes, but a repeat of Friday’s comeback exploits against Scotland was not to be.  

England goal shooter Helen Housby was awarded the Most Valuable Player for a good all-around performance in the circle. She landed all 17 of her shots at goal.  

England coach Jess Thirlby was once again pleased with her team’s efforts.

“I think we’ve prepared well for styles like this. I think it’s important to respect the opposition. We really look forward to the challenge of different levels of physicality and different styles of play so we kind of knew what to expect and we also know tactically how to be smart about it,” she said.

“I think everyone has had a test today and I think it’s perfect to get a test so soon on day two. We felt prepared for this game and I think we shouldn’t really wipe away a 20-plus goal win against such a quality side as anything other than a great step in the right direction.”

Malawi captain Jane Chimaliro said it was unfortunate that her side couldn’t continue with their good performance from the first quarter. 

“We came hard at them in the first quarter and it started very well for us,” she said. “The game was very close but I think we lost concentration and consistency in the third quarter, and that’s why we lost the game. And then we didn’t play well in the last quarter.” 

SCORES: 

Q1: 12-10 

Q2: 29-20 (17-10)  

Q3: 48-29 (19-9)  

Q4: 62-39 (14-10) 

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Helen Housby  

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO 49-36 SINGAPORE

Trinidad and Tobago raced into a seven-goal lead before Singapore could make any impression on the scoreboard in their Group D encounter. But the Asian side did well to rally and close that gap. Singapore’s shooters struggled with their accuracy though, goal attack Kai Wei Toh sinking just one of her seven attempts in the first quarter as the Caribbean team headed into the first break 13-10 up.

Singapore’s scoring woes continued in the second quarter, but with Trinidad and Tobago also squandering several chances to find their shooters at the other end of the court, the match remained a tight one. Evidence of this was the fact that just 17 goals were scored in total in the 15-minute period.

In the end, it was Trinidad and Tobago’s physicality and superior shooting accuracy that triumphed over Singapore’s speed. They started pulling away in the third quarter and extended their lead in the fourth to wrap up a 49-36 victory – their first of the Netball World Cup 2023.

That also saw the Calypso Girls extending their record of wins over Singapore at the Netball World Cup to six out of six.

Trinidad and Tobago goal shooter Afeisha Noel was named Most Valuable Player and said: “A first win for Trinidad and Tobago is really good. To come out of this group in the top three is an honour.

“I think our composure made the difference today. We went to the changeroom and we spoke as a team, the coach spoke to us and told us to regroup and then we came back out and we dominated… Our coach always tells us short and sharp passes and that’s what we did.”

Singapore goal shooter Amandeep Chahal said: “I did get a few pushes and nudges but I guess that’s just the physicality of the game, so you just have to stand strong.

As for her side’s troubles in the shooting circle, Chahal added: “I guess we just have to regroup and come back stronger tomorrow, work on our shooting and shooter passes, like triangles and stuff, just to bring the ball closer and improve the accuracy.”

SCORES

Q1: 13-10

Q2: 21-19 (8-9)

Q3: 34-30 (13-11)

Q4: 49-36 (15-6)

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER:  Afeisha Noel (Trinidad and Tobago)