21 July 2019 | Uncategorized

Kiwis ‘humbled and grateful’ after fifth World Cup triumph

World Cup-winning captain Laura Langman says the Silver Ferns were 'humbled and grateful' to get over the line in a hugely entertaining final.

The Silver Ferns, who have lost the last three World Cup finals to their Australian rivals, triumphed by a single goal in Liverpool, securing their fifth title.

Afterwards, Langman said:

“It was hotly contested. Given five more minutes the result could have been different, so we’re grateful and very humbled by this occasion.

“We always knew it was going to be tight, and I thought we were up and down throughout the game, but so were Australia. Coming down to the final period where we just needed to score on our own ball, we showed really good patience and ball retention. Everyone contributed.”

Langman, who was part of those silver medal-winning New Zealand teams in each of the last three tournaments, described the feeling of finally holding the trophy aloft.

She continued:

“Fourth time lucky, on a personal note! It’s been a long time between drinks! There have been numerous occasions when we’ve come so close and haven’t quite got across the line, so to get across the line is so special. What a game!”

Langman also praised the tournament as a whole, saying:

“I just think Liverpool did a fantastic job – they certainly lived to their pillars. I just genuinely think there’s a good appreciation for good sport out there. What a stage to play on, and it’s definitely one for the memory bank.”

21 July 2019 | Uncategorized

Alexander urges Diamonds to hold heads high

Australia coach Liz Alexander has urged their players to hold their heads up high after another fantastic World Cup campaign ended with a silver medal.

The Diamonds came up just short of claiming a sensational 12th World Cup title, being edged out by New Zealand, 52-51, in an extraordinary final.

Alexander explained the hurt that her players were feeling:

“They’re shattered. They’re young women who wanted desperately to win a World Cup, and show the netball world, particularly in Australia, that they were the real deal. They’re hurting at the moment.

“There wasn’t really a lot different (to the previous match between the two teams), as the score was only one goal the other way. I think it’s just the moments that happen – a tip or a touch one way, a call one way. When you’re competing and it’s so even, you can’t put your finger on one thing.”

Despite the Australians’ obvious disappointment, Alexander emphasised her pride in her players, and believes that, going forward, the memories of this defeat can be used as a positive.

“(I want them to ) hold their heads up. We’re terribly proud of them – they’ve done everything to its absolute nth degree from a high performance point of view. You couldn’t get athletes who are more professional, and I’m really, really proud of them.

“We want to make sure that people are hurting, and to remember that, because that’s what drives athletes to higher levels of performance and training, and that group need to do that.

“They’ve obviously learnt a lot from that, and this group pretty much in the main will go forward into the next cycle.”

21 July 2019 | Uncategorized

We’ll go again – Bassett

Caitlin Bassett says that the 'passion and drive' of the Australia team will ensure they bounce back from their Vitality Netball World Cup final defeat.

After three successive titles, Australia were beaten in today’s final in Liverpool by New Zealand, 52-51.

Bassett said:

“It’s tough. We’re so proud of the effort we’ve put it across the whole tournament. To have eight games in 10 days is huge and I think the way we fought it out and brought it back – we could have let them go.

“It sucks that they got it but a silver medal is (still) pretty impressive.”

Bassett was part of the Diamonds team which won the previous two finals, and she says that the winning mentality ingrained within the Australian set-up will ensure they come back from this disappointment.

“Everyone’s got that passion and that drive. That’s what drives us – that passion to play for your country. 

“Lisa (Alexander, coach) told us in the changing room: ‘You’re still young and you’ve got so much talent’. We’re going to go again. That’s the message.

“We’ve had that taste and that experience. We want to be on that golden podium, so everyone’s got the drive to keep going. 

“We have the depth but we feel like we’re good enough right now to be up there (winning World Cups). Every time we play we’re being chosen in this team for a reason. Lisa has that belief; she’s building something and it’s something special. I think we’re going to see big things from this group coming through in the next four years.” 

21 July 2019 | Uncategorized

Kopua overjoyed after ‘roller-coaster’ journey

World Cup winner Casey Kopua says that there was 'no self doubt' among the New Zealand side as they earned a first title in 16 years today.

The Silver Ferns are on top of the netball world for the first time since 2003 after beating Australia 52-51 in an enthralling final in Liverpool.

Kopua, who now has a gold medal to add to the three silvers she has previously won, said:

“It’s exactly what we came here for – the roller-coaster was a little bit bumpy and a little bit rough, but we knew that it was going to happen.

“It always comes down to that last shot, but I had no doubt in our girls – I don’t think anyone had any self doubt either. I just think the confidence and the processes that you could see in our team really showed there in that game.”

On finally being crowned world champion after an illustrious career, she added:

“Now I know how it feels on the other side of the fence! I also know how the other side feels, but this feels way better!”

21 July 2019 | Uncategorized

New Zealand are world champions

New Zealand shocked defending champions Australia to win the Vitality Netball World Cup with a 52-51 victory.

The Silver Ferns, whose last World Cup title came in 2003, took control of the contest late in the second quarter and didn’t give up their advantage as captain Laura Langman led her side to success with help from some superb shooting from Maria Folau and Ameliaranne Ekenasio. 

The two teams had met 16 times in Netball World Cup history – with New Zealand winning just four of them – and it was the seventh time the teams had contested a World Cup final, including four years ago in Sydney.

Australia made four changeS from the side that beat South Africa in the semi-final and captain Caitlin Bassett, who came in for Caitlin Thwaites, started in dominating fashion as she made her first three goal attempts.

The Silver Ferns were not as clinical and Folau, who made her 148th international appearance becoming the second most capped player in New Zealand history, got off to a difficult start missing two of her first three goal attempts.

Neither side could get into their free-flowing play in an error-plagued opening with both team’s defensive play forcing mistakes, but it was the experienced Bassett who was proving to be the difference as she continued to shoot perfectly to help Australia to an 8-4 lead after eight minutes.

New Zealand began to establish themselves in the contest and they capitalised on a poor pass from Jo Weston to reduce the deficit to one at 9-8. Momentum was with the Silver Ferns and despite their disappointing 71.4% shooting compared to Australia’s 100%, the first quarter finished level at 10-10.

The Silver Ferns averaged 61% possession in the first quarter, but they failed to make that count, and Australia started the second period much more assured and protective of the ball. Still nothing could separate the two sides as the pair traded goals and when any team did miss, they managed to grab the rebound and put it away.

Bassett and Folau were showing how vital they were to their side as they both continued to create and put away scoring opportunities. Ekenasio was also displaying her shooting range, making all seven of her goal attempts in the second quarter.

New Zealand were finding goals much easier to come by, but Australia were not giving them an inch until the final minute of the half when a loose pass from Kelsey Browne was intercepted and Ekenasio increased the gap to two for the first time in the quarter.

Folau followed that up with another goal with seconds remaining on the clock and New Zealand took a 28-25 lead into half time.

The Silver Ferns carried that momentum into the opening stages of the third quarter as the built on their advantage, taking a 31-26 lead with five minutes played as Folau and Ekenasio continued to shoot well.

Australia’s coach Lisa Alexander replaced Steph Wood with Gretel Tippett at half time, but the change didn’t provide the attacking spark the Diamonds were hoping for and they trailed 36-29 with seven minutes remaining in the quarter.

New Zealand continued to maintain their advantage as Folau and Ekenasio, who were assisted brilliantly by Gina Crampton and Langman, dominated the Australia defence. The Diamonds struggled to turn over the ball, but they finally managed to force a significant one late in the quarter and they were able to reduce the deficit to four, so they trailed 41-37 going into the final quarter.

The Diamonds raced out of the blocks in the fourth quarter and they cut the deficit to one after three straight goals to start the period. Folau and Ekenasio kept the scoreboard ticking for New Zealand as the lead bounced between one and two goals.

A poor pass from Bassett allowed the Silver Ferns to re-establish their four-point gap. However, the defending champions responded again, and a Folau miss in between three Bassett goals reduced the lead to one again.

With five minutes remaining, New Zealand led 48-47 and a Bassett error allowed that to be extended to 51-48 by the Silver Ferns. Back came Australia with a turnover of their own and entering the final 90 seconds there was one goal in it.

Australia couldn’t find that elusive turnover, however, and New Zealand became world champions, sparking jubilant scenes among the Kiwi contingent.

21 July 2019 | Uncategorized

We stayed connected – Harten

Jo Harten praised the way her England team-mates 'managed their feelings' to bounce back from semi-final disappointment to claim the bronze medal today.

After a heart-breaking, narrow defeat to New Zealand yesterday, the Roses beat South Africa 58-42 to win bronze at their home World Cup today.

Harten said:

“It was tough. We’ve been there before but I’m really proud of the way the group managed their feelings last night and this morning. The nation and the country got what they deserved and we got what we deserved as well. 

“Before we even left the building yesterday (after defeat to New Zealand), we tried to right the wrongs. The Silver Ferns were better than us.

“Sometimes you blame yourself and lose your connection (as a team), but we stayed connected last night. We had a few fun games, did some homework on South Africa, and we looked at the game plan. We kept working and it shows on the court today.”

Harten also paid tribute to coach Tracey Neville, who has announced her intention to step down after this tournament.

Harten added:

“I’ve got a lot of respect for her – the way she was thrust into this job four years ago…it was manic. It wasn’t the ideal scenario and she struggled for a couple of years trying to find her own style and forge the team into what it is now.

“She stuck to her guns and she’s been a force to be reckoned with on the international stage. She deserves a break away from sport, potentially. 

“We’re really proud of her. It’s hard to imagine what it will be like without Tracey. We’ve been under her rule for four years and she’s so passionate. We’re all such believers in her work.” 

21 July 2019 | Uncategorized

Potgieter pride in Proteas’ fourth

Lenize Potgieter spoke of her pride in South Africa's Vitality Netball World Cup campaign after the Proteas finished the tournament in fourth position.

South Africa lost out to England in today’s bronze medal match, and although disappointed with that result, Potgieter was pleased with how her team tackled the World Cup as a whole.

She said:

“I think we’re disappointed in our performance today. The Roses brought their A game against us. But I’m really proud of my team for getting this far – we have really improved since the previous World Cup.

“I think if we played like we played against Australia (in the semi-final, where South Africa lost by two), it would have been a better game. There were great moments in the game, but we needed to be more consistent with them.

“I’m still very proud of the team – sad obviously that we didn’t medal, but we improved our ranking, so I’m very happy about that.”

21 July 2019 | Uncategorized

Roses pay tribute to home fans after clinching bronze

England players paid tribute to the 'phenomenal' Liverpool crowds after they won the bronze medal at the Vitality Netball World Cup today.

Tracey Neville’s Roses defeated South Africa to record a third-place finish at their home World Cup, with the outstanding support at the M&S Bank Arena a constant feature of their campaign.

Geva Mentor said:

“The crowd this week has been phenomenal. Every time you hear your name being called or you see your face up on the screen, there’s a loud cheer.

“That inspires those around you and for me, it’s all about getting people involved, whether that’s at an elite level or just participating. It’s given me so many opportunities and I hope that it does for others.”

Rachel Dunn, who got a hero’s welcome on to court after the late change which the crowd had been demanding from Neville, added:

“I’ve been overwhelmed by the support that the whole team has had, and that was a slightly overwhelming moment.

“It’s just been the most amazing ten days. The whole experience of our home World Cup and the fans have been amazing – I think it was their goal to make it the best World Cup by far, and from a home player perspective, they’ve got it all right. The support that we’ve had has been amazing – we’ve got the best fans in the world, hands down.”

Fran Williams said:

“The crowd was awesome today. You can tell they’re having as much fun as we are, and when people talk about the eighth player…it really feels like they’re on the court with us. They’ve just been immense from start to finish – waving us off at the hotel, in the fan park and in the arena, as well as back home on TV.”

21 July 2019 | Uncategorized

England claim bronze with South Africa victory

England bounced back from their heart-breaking semi-final defeat to beat South Africa 58-42 in the Vitality Netball World Cup bronze medal match.

In Tracey Neville’s last game as England coach, the Roses claimed their third successive World Cup bronze medal as they were too strong for the Proteas, who had to settle for fourth in the competition.

Backed once again by a vocal home crowd, England repeated a similar performance to the one they had produced against South Africa earlier in the tournament when they ran out 58-47 winners as Jo Harten and Helen Housby impressed.

Both sides entered the contest off the back of disappointing, narrow defeats, but neither team showed any signs of it affecting their play as the momentum of the contest swung back and forth in the lively opening exchanges.

Lenize Potgieter got South Africa off to a positive start, making her first five goal attempts and Housby, who started the game at goal shooter for England, also made a perfect start netting her first three shots as the score was 6-6 at the midway point.

As the quarter wore on, England began to force some turnovers from South Africa and as Harten settled into the game after missing her first shot of the contest, the Roses extended their lead to a many as four.

A turnover at the expense of Serena Guthrie, however, allowed South Africa to reduce the deficit back to one goal, but Harten scored her ninth consecutive goal of the quarter with just over ten seconds to go to give England a 14-12 lead.

The second quarter began with both sides showcasing their quality passing and movement as the ball moved quickly up and down the court. England were given the opportunity to build on their advantage when Maryka Holtzhausen missed her third goal attempt from seven and Housby made no mistake as England took an 18-14 lead.

England’s defence was continuing to force South Africa into errors and Harten and Housby were making them pay. The Roses’ lead was up to 23-16 at the halfway stage of the quarter after three straight goals from Housby.

The same pattern continued in the remaining minutes of the quarter as South Africa struggled to make any inroads into England’s lead, and it began to grow. Despite Potgieter keeping the scoreboard ticking for the Proteas, Housby (10/10) and Harten (5/5) were equally as good, scoring all 15 of their goal attempts as the Roses led 29-22 at half time.

South Africa coach Norma Plummer, who took charge of her 50th international for the Proteas, would have been looking for a response from her players as the second half began but it was England who started the better, scoring four of the first five goals.

Aided by captain Guthrie and Natalie Haythornthwaite, Harten and Housby continued to rack up the goals as England extended their advantage to twelve with four minutes remaining.

Potgieter and Holtzhausen both shot well for South Africa in the third quarter, but the Proteas’ general attacking play lacked consistency whereas England’s just seemed to get better. The Roses continued to build their lead and led by 14 heading into the final quarter.

The bronze medal was in the grasp of England as they began the final 15 minutes of the World Cup and the crowd knew it too ,as they created a party atmosphere as the final buzzer edged ever closer.

South Africa improved early on in the final period and began to force errors from England but any attempts to reduce the deficit were halted by Holtzhausen’s inconsistent shooting performance as she made just one of her opening five attempts.

England attacking duo of Housby and Harten just continued to shine and the host’s advantage continued to build. The Roses were much more relaxed and looked a different side from the one that had struggled against New Zealand.

As the clock ticked down, Neville began to make changes including bringing on goal shooter Rachel Dunn, who received an enormous reception as the home crowd acknowledged her and her bronze-medal winning team-mates.

South Africa’s Karla Pretorius said:

“What a journey it was for us. I feel like in this last game, we maybe didn’t play our own game, and it was because of the game they brought to us, so well done them – it was a great performance from them once again.”

England’s Rachel Dunn said:

“It was a close game yesterday, but there are close margins at the top of this sport. We were all a bit devastated yesterday, but we had time to deal with that and then today it was all about bronze. Everyone wanted to go out there and fight for it, and the girls put in an amazing performance and got that medal.”

21 July 2019 | Uncategorized

Jamaica end on a high to claim fifth

Jamaica beat Malawi 68-50 to earn themselves fifth place at the Vitality Netball World Cup.

Both sides had won three times at the M&S Bank Arena prior to this one and had played each other three times at World Cups in the past, with Jamaica winning all of those encounters.

While Jamaica did conclude their tournament with a victory, this was always going to be their lowest finish at a World Cup since 1995 no matter the outcome here thanks to previous results earlier in the week. 

Heading into the game, they were disappointed not to have continued their record of playing in the last five bronze medal matches, including in Sydney in 2015, though their 100% record in games against Malawi continued.

It was not long into the first quarter that Jamaica put down a marker, proving that they were determined to finish as high as possible in the competition despite not matching previous achievements.

Goal shooter Jhaniele Fowler of Jamaica, who turns 30 today, opened the scoring after 14 seconds, finding space inside the circle and clinically dispatching a clean shot – the perfect start on her birthday. 

It wasn’t long before Fowler has plenty more reasons to celebrate as she and her team scored another 19 goals in the first quarter.

Her opposite number, the agile goal shooter of Malawi, Joyce Mvula, was picked out prior to the tournament as being one to watch. She, too, was heavily involved, but Malawi scored seven fewer times than their opponents to trail 20-13 at the 15-minute mark.

The first quarter, though, was not telling as to how the match would unfold, as Jamaica were made to work hard for their win. 

Malawi pulled the scoreline back to 22-21 momentarily as they looked like overhauling their disadvantage before Jamaica slowed the onslaught. Malawi did draw level first at 24-24 and then 25-25, but the Sunshine Girls ended the quarter strongly, heading in for half-time leading 37-28.

That second quarter was a more reliable gauge for how the second half of the match would pan out, with Malawi looking threatening early on, before they ultimately succumbed to defeat. 

The third quarter saw Jamaica increase their lead in the match overall once again as they conceded early on, only to go on and score 15 goals of their own. With just 15 minutes to play, they were almost there in terms of the result, leading by 11.

Both Jane Chimaliro and Thandie Galleta of Malawi were playing their 50th match for their country, but they did not earn the win that they would have wanted to mark that milestone. 

Jamaica won the final quarter, too, by 16 goals to nine, winning the match by 18 overall. Following a tournament in which they set out to achieve a little bit more, the win was a welcome end to their campaign as Fowler and co. celebrated a closing-day victory.

Jamaica’s Jhaniele Fowler said of her birthday win:

“(To win today) was an ok present – I didn’t want that, I wanted a medal for my birthday, but unfortunately, I got fifth.

“We had a few turnovers which caused Malawi to come back, but fortunately, we got ahead. As a leader,  things will happen and we have to stand tall. You have to be the one who does the best that they can do to the best of their ability.

“A lot of things caused us to perform and be where we are at the moment. Hopefully, we can fix those and change those things.”