In a thrilling warm-up to the Vitality Netball World Cup 2019, January’s Quad Series has been a fierce battle between four of the sport’s top teams, showcasing some outstanding elite netball talent. Providing a fascinating insight into how the teams are performing just six months ahead of the World Cup, the series has established some great rivalries, including the old between the Australian Diamonds and the New Zealand Silver Ferns, and the new with the Vitality England Roses.
Winners Australia took no prisoners as they beat South Africa 62-45 in Round One at Liverpool’s M&S Bank Arena. Diamonds’ star Liz Watson said: ‘the first match was very intense, especially the first quarter. We were challenged and put in uncomfortable situations but overall I’m extremely proud of how we responded to these challenges.’
The Diamonds followed with an exciting victory over New Zealand 53-50 at London’s Copper Box, remaining unbeaten at this stage of the Quads.
England lost against South Africa 45-48 in their Copper Box fixture on Saturday. In the final match of the series, the Vitality England Roses faced Australia in a repeat of last April’s Commonwealth Games final clash, with the home side ending the series on a high in a thrilling contest between these two elite international teams.
Despite a slow start, the Roses pulled ahead with the five-goal winning margin needed for the Quad Series title, but the Diamonds pushed through to close the gap. With eight minutes to spare, Tracey Neville’s side finished the match victorious, 52-49 although Australia took the Quads honours overall as England’s margin had been reduced to just three goals.
With this first international fixture of 2019 now over, all 16 teams competing in the World Cup will be looking ahead to July. Silver Fern Jane Watson said: ‘the mood is really good. We’re going all out in every training session. The intensity is very high, the focus is there.’
South Africa’s captain Bongi Msomi added: ‘the intensity and the level of playing the top three teams in the world is exactly what we need. It’s a great competition and a huge learning curve for us going into the World Cup.’