Match reports courtesy of Hugh Currell
SUPERB ENGLAND PROGRESS TO FINAL
A revitalised England side put their disappointing group stage behind them as they beat the world number ones 27-17.
The first semi-final pitted the unbeaten Australians against the hosts, England, who suffered three defeats in the group stages. The first quarter ended in deadlock as Susan Pratley and Joanne Harten helped their respective teams to a 5-5 score.
Despite a bandaged thumb, Harten alongside her shooting partner Cookey were in scintillating form for England and their inch-perfect finishing gave the hosts a well-earned 8-12 lead at halftime.
The coaches from both teams decided it was time to use their power play option but it was England who made full use and an incredible team performance gave them a superb 12-22 lead with just the final six minutes to play. It was largely down to an organised and skilful defence that limited the world number ones to just four points during their power play.
With a ten-point lead the Fastnet Diamonds needed to perform a miracle as the hosts continued their magnificent team performance. England looked a completely different side to the one that lost to three games in the group stages. Their defence looked unbreakable at times whilst Guthrie and Clarke dominated the midfield.
Joanne Harten said: "My thumb’s fine, I just knocked it. Pam [Pamela Cookey] was driving post quite a lot and that’s what our game plan was and it was brilliant."
Pamela Cookey said: "After yesterday and Friday we were a bit down but we came out strong today and we thought about our gameplay and it we executed it perfectly."
NEW ZEALAND SET-UP FINAL WITH HOSTS
Cathrine Latu stars as New Zealand narrowly beat their opponents 29-30 to secure a place in the final against England.
A rematch of one of the best group stage matches, the second semi-final saw the reigning champions defend their crown against a physical Jamaican side.Dhanielle Fowler’s height has caused defenders havoc throughout the tournament and once again it was her attacking prowess that gave The Sunshine Girls a 7-5 lead after the first quarter, despite Irene Van Dyk’s accuracy under the hoop.
New Zealand had to stop Fowler if they had any chance of progressing but struggled to do so as she caught and scored nearly everything that came to her. This tournament Jamaica have been noted for their strong work ethic and they limited Fastnet Ferns to just a handful of chances. As a result the holders found themselves down 12 -10 at halftime.
As is the norm for the third quarter both sides pressed their power play buttons that gave the teams double points for six minutes. New Zealand introduced the lethal Cathrine Latu and Maria Tutaia off the bench as they looked to turn their opponents over. It worked as the Fastnet Ferns led with a slender 22-24 lead heading into the final quarter.
With two points between them and a place in the final against England, New Zealand and Jamaica put everything they had into the last quarter of play. However Cathrine Latu was in clinical form and even a last-minute double-pointer from Anna-Kay Griffiths could not stop The Sunshine Girls losing 29-30.
SOUTH AFRICA CLINCH 5TH PLACE
South Africa have beaten Fiji to claim 5th place at this year's World Series with a 24-19 win.
The 5th and 6th place playoff put South Africa against a Fijian side that had yet to win a game at this year’s competition. In a low-scoring first quarter the Fijians found themselves lurking in familiar territory as Chrisna Bootha gave the Protea team a 3-2 lead.
The Fijians have been missing several key players this tournament and it showed as the South Africans passed around them and overran the midfield. Service to Bootha was plentiful as she propelled the South Africans to a 9-5 lead at halftime.
South Africa continued their dominance as both teams started to tire after five games a piece in the tournament so far. The Fijians lacked that incisive final pass and with disappointing shooting they were looking at defeat once more as the 7th-placed team were down 14-9 with a quarter to play.
Both teams had their power play activated by default in the final quarter as the Fijians looked to win their first game of the tournament. However South Africa proved too physical and were winning the majority of the head-to-head battles as Fiji registered a 24-19 loss.
Erin Burger took the player-of-the-match award after being crowned Player of the Tournament at this year's World Netball Championships. The 24-year-old was also recently awarded the Sport24 Performance Award in South Africa. It's clear that this has been her year as she has firmly established herself as a world class talent.
PRATLEY INSPIRES AUSTRALIA TO THIRD
Australia’s attacking prowess was too much for hard-working Jamaica as the world number ones finished third with a 24-32 win.
A rematch of this year’s opening game and last year’s 3rd and 4th place playoff, Jamaica took on Australia to decide who would take bronze.
Australia won 28-18 in their last encounter but since then the Sunshine Girls have sharpened up and narrowly missed out on a place in the final. The Fastnet Diamonds contained the usually deadly Dhanielle Fowler and Susan Pratley’s skills gave Australia a 6-8 lead.
Australia have alternated between Kate Beveridge and Carla Dziwoki at GS and it was the latter’s sharp shooting that kept world number one’s lead up. Despite Jamaica’s attempts to close the gap they finished the first half 10-14 down.
With no power play in use both teams entered the third quarter knowing they would score double points in the final six minutes. Verity Simmons was introduced to tighten up the midfield and control the service to Fowler and alongside more prolific shooting from Dziwoki and Pratley the Australians looked comfortable at 16-24.
With both teams having to introduce their power play by default the Fastnet Diamonds were looking to build on their lead. Fowler was still causing a few problems but Australia’s passing and movement were too quick and too crafty for the Sunshine Girls as the world number ones won 24-32.
ENGLAND WIN FIRST MAJOR TOURNAMENT
Joanne Harten scored two double pointers to secure England’s first win at a major tournament. The hosts beat New Zealand 33-26 with a fantastic team effort.
In a repeat of last year’s final England found themselves up against the reigning champions New Zealand.
After a brilliant win against Australia the hosts were looking for Joanne Harten to fire them to victory. Eboni Beckford-Chambers and Stacey Francis were working hard in defence to control the New Zealand skipper Irene Van Dyk. A magnificent double-pointer from Harten meant the two teams ended the first quarter drawing 6-6.
The prolific Cathrine Latu was brought on for Van Dyk as the holders looked to build a lead. Latu was impressive as ever and built a considerable lead before Harten again struck another long bomb meaning the hosts were only down 13-14 at halftime.
Both teams used power play in the third quarter as England looked to secure their first ever major championship. Joanne Harten looked unstoppable under the hoop as she shot wonderfully and the hosts, buoyed by the home crowd, led 29-22.
The final quarter began with the Fastnet Ferns needed plenty of goals but England didn’t stop working and Beckford-Chambers and Francis in defence built a wall of brilliance that even New Zealand couldn’t break down. More goals from Harten and Griffiths meant England won 33-26 in a thrilling game.
Joanne Harten said: “If you come out slightly weaker on Friday and Saturday you can still fire on all cylinders on Sunday. It feels really good. It’s a different format and style of the game but it’s good to win against New Zealand and Australia. It was nice to score them [two double-pointers] but the team did all the hard work for me.”
England have won their first major tournament as they beat New Zealand 33-26 in a rematch of last year’s final. The hosts gave the home support plenty to cheer about as two terrific team performances brushed aside Australia and then New Zealand.
Molly Rhone, IFNA President, presented the winning medals to the England side, whilst certificates and runners-up medals were handed to the umpires and New Zealand players respectively.
Despite an all-round team effort from England special mention must go to Eboni Beckford-Chambers and Stacey Francis for their superb defensive performances that limited the two most dangerous sides in the world. Joanne Harten, who put two double-pointers away in the final, was prolific throughout and despite injuring her thumb she was England’s biggest attacking threat.
New Zealand will feel aggrieved to lose their crown but cannot have any complaints after being outplayed by England. The Fastnet Ferns will have been cheered up by the news that next year’s Netball World Series will be held in Auckland.
Jamaica missed out on a third place as they lost to an Australian side that some tipped to win the competition. Susan Pratley was instrumental in all of their attacking movements and she inspired the Fastnet Diamonds to a third place finish, despite her team winning all five of their group stage matches. Jamaica will be buoyed by the announcement that their captain Nadine Bryan was named Player of the Tournament. Echoes of last year when Simeone Forbes, the Sunshine Girls’ previous skipper was given the same accolade at last year’s competition.