Tasked with marking the tournament’s tallest player and top goalscorer, Tharjini Sivalingam, Misa excelled, recording 11 interceptions as the Samoans ran out 65-55 winners.
A series of athletic interventions helped prevent the ball reaching Sivalingam as much as the Sri Lankans would have liked, as Misa and her team-mates recorded their second win in two days.
Afterwards, she said:
“I don’t think I’m a high jumper – I was just trying to get up as high as I can. (Playing against Sivalingam) was obviously a challenge. It was really hard. I don’t think I’ve come across (an opponent) as tall as her so it was really hard, but the pressure at the front made my job a lot easier.
“It was about putting pressure up at the front so that way we could force the ball back. The girls at the front put heaps of pressure on the ball. It feels good.”
Their two successive Group E wins mean that Samoa are guaranteed a place in Friday’s play-off to decide the 13th-placed team at the Vitality Netball World Cup, and Misa says confidence has been boosted.
“We took that win (yesterday) and took today as a new day – a brand new game. We just wanted to go out and do the same thing. We came out strong: started strong and finished strong. We played our normal game.
“I think confidence went up (after yesterday’s victory). We just played our own game and keep doing that. We have Singapore tomorrow so hopefully we finish strong.”
Samoan goal keeper Lenora Misa – the Player of the Match – in particular impressed, registering 11 interceptions against the obvious threat of the tournament’s top scorer Tharjini Sivalingam.
Sri Lanka beat Singapore by 38 goals yesterday to record their highest ever score at a World Cup – and their first win at a World Cup since matchday one in 2015, a 12-match losing streak – and topped the group involving the four bottom-placed stage one sides going into day five of the tournament.
Samoa, though, had won all five meetings between the teams at World Cups previously – and that 100% record continued.
Sivalingam, who shot 76 out of 78 (97% accuracy) against Singapore on Monday, continued her excellent scoring form as she netted all 16 goals scored by Sri Lanka in the opening quarter.
Misa, winning her fourth cap having made her debut at the World Cup, was kept busy and initially struggled to deal with the significant height difference between the pair.
After an incredibly end-to-end and flowing encounter across the first 15 minutes, Sri Lanka led 17-13. That ebb and flow to the match was something that was set to continue.
The high intensity extended into the second period, though the quality, particularly from Sivalingam, waned a little as Misa began to make interceptions on a regular basis. The goal shooter missed four chances to score early in the second quarter, which only increased Samoa’s confidence.
Sivalingam was punished by Samoa at the other end, as they won the period 19-10, and took the lead in the game overall, five goals clear at the halfway mark.
Samoa’s excellent interchanges and the clinical nature of goal shooter Toa Tanimo, who scored 21 times from 22 shots in the opening two quarters, meant they had edged the first half.
Samoa, keen to maintain the momentum built up from the previous 15 minutes, soon opened up an eight-goal advantage early in the third quarter.
Sri Lanka, though, were not prepared to go down without a fight, as they notched three times in quick succession themselves courtesy of Sivalingam.
As the quarter progressed though, it was Samoa who extended their lead, as they quickened the pace and got the ball forward to goal shooter Tanimo more quickly. Tanimo converted on 42 occasions throughout the match, missing just three times, and it was her goals that fired Samoa further into the lead.
The gap was 12 goals at its largest during the third quarter, but by the end of it, Sivalingam’s conversions had pulled that back slightly to nine.
Goal attack Dulangi Wannithileka got onto the scoresheet for Sri Lanka as they cut the deficit to seven at one stage in the final quarter, but time was running out fast. With more and more urgency in attack, holes were left in defence which Samoa exploited on the counter-attack.
Sri Lanka won the final quarter by 17 goals to 13, but it was insufficient. Samoa took wins in each of the first three quarters and deservedly earned the two points.
In the final match of the second group stage, Sri Lanka will face Fiji, while Samoa will play Singapore. Both of those games will take place in session 11, on Wednesday morning, before the placings begin on Friday.
With just seconds remaining, the Fijians turned the ball over in their own defensive third and worked possession rapidly to Lydia Panapasa, who finished the move off but a split second too late. The goal did not stand and Samoa were able to celebrate the narrowest of wins – their first of the tournament.
The teams came into the meeting off the back of three defeats in Preliminaries stage one, and their previous head-to-head record at World Cups – two wins apiece – hinted at the evenly-matched nature of the contest.
Samoa got off to a fast start, scoring six unanswered goals. Once Fiji found their feet though, the shooting of Panapasa and Unaisi Rauluni inspired a spectacular first-quarter comeback, and ensured the second half of the quarter was far more even, and finished 18-16 to the Samoans.
A goal from Sanita To’o pushed that lead out to three early in the second quarter, and history repeated itself as the Samoans again scored six without reply. Fiji again found their feet late in the quarter, but slipped further behind as the half-time whistle blew with Samoa boasting a healthy 33-20 advantage.
A much stronger start to the third quarter spurred the Fijians on, and they began to grow further in confidence as they ate away at Samoa’s advantage. After drawing level, Rauluni scored the goal which saw them go in front for the first time, at 40-39. They ended the quarter 42-40 up.
Precision shooting from Toa Tanimo and Tee Salanoa saw Samoa roar back into contention in the early stages of the final quarter, and the teams could barely be separated as they continued to trade goals. It was Samoa who broke that pattern to go 49-47 clear.
They held an advantage until the final few seconds, seemingly able to keep safe possession and run down the clock to keep their one-goal lead. However Fiji intercepted, broke down court and were denied a sensational tie by the smallest of margins.
Lydia Panapasa said:
“I think the last shot was in, but the girls did really great – we put all our effort into the game and played to the last whilst which is really positive.
“I feel we need to work on getting our rhythm in the first quarter, as the last quarter is always a do-or-die quarter. We should do that in the first quarter instead.”
Tracey Neville’s side were once again backed by a raucous home crowd at the M&S Bank Arena but the biggest cheer of the morning came before the game had even begun when Layla Guscoth, ruled out for the rest of the tournament after rupturing her left Achilles against Scotland, emerged courtside to sit on the bench with the rest of her teammates.
The two sides had faced each other three times in the World Cup, with England winning all three, and the last meeting had come in 2015 with England comfortable victors on that day.
On this occasion, England got into their attacking stride quickly as they raced into a 4-0 lead with their fluid passing proving too much for their opponents.
Samoa eventually began to settle, and the two sides started to trade goals with the goal shooters on both sides, Jo Harten for England and Toa Tanimo for Samoa, shooting at 100% in the opening exchanges.
As the quarter wore on, England began to impose themselves on Samoa, forcing 12 turnovers as they built a commanding lead which had extended to 15 by the end of the period. Harten continued her efficient shooting making all 15 of her goal attempts as the first quarter finished 22-7.
Samoa were finding scoring opportunities much harder to come by as England’s defensive play, led by Geva Mentor and Eboni Usoro-Brown, seemed to get better and better as the half went on, limiting Samoa to just five goal attempts in the entire second quarter.
It was Harten who continued to be the star of the show, however, as she finished the half with 100% shooting. She made all 31 of her goal attempts as England went into half time with a 43-11 lead.
As has been the case for the majority of the tournament, Tracey Neville continued to make changes, and after Rachel Dunn replaced Harten at half time she instantly picked up where she left off against Scotland, scoring two quickfire goals.
Samoa also made changes themselves as goal attack Eseta Autagavaia started the third quarter well, making her first two goal attempts to keep the scoreboard ticking over for her side.
Dunn and Natalie Haythornthwaite continued to build on the Roses’ lead, but Samoa also enjoyed their joint-best scoring quarter as they made seven of their eight goal attempts with Tee Salanoa and Autagavaia shooting a combined 87.5%.
Entering the fourth quarter with a 65-18 lead, the Roses continued to mix and match different combinations and it was a much more even start to the final period.
Once again though, England began to dominate as the minutes ticked by and Dunn and Harten, who returned from the bench for the fourth quarter, continued their shooting form to lead the Roses to victory.
Victory for England means they advance to Group G of Preliminaries Stage Two with six points, whilst Samoa move into Group E to join Singapore as they search for their first win.
England’s Jo Harten said:
“We just had some fun out there today, letting the ball go, off the pass, off the shot and it was a good win and a good performance.
“We had to respect Samoa. We put out a really strong team and we had to get off to a good start but once we had the jitters and the nerves out the way we were just having fun out there.
“The crowd were awesome. I don’t think I’ve played in front of a home crowd like that before. Every goal, every pass – you could feel them playing it with us. They’re really getting behind us not just in the arena but around the country.”
The two sides have previous experience at multiple World Cups, but prior to this had never competed against one other at this level.
It was Uganda who settled quickest into the match as they raced into the lead. Goal shooter Mary Nuba Cholock and goal attack Stella Oyella – the first player ever to be sent off in a World Cup match yesterday against England – scored seven times between them inside the opening four minutes.
The former, in particular, was left unmarked far too easily for the Samoan coaching staff’s liking, collecting the ball and converting with ease at times.
By the end of the first quarter, the Uganda attackers’ movement to outfox Samoa’s Gene Solia-Gibb and Rachel Rasmussen and their clinical finishing – missing just twice between them – saw Uganda take a 22-11 lead.
Samoan goal shooter Tee Salanoa converted eight of her nine opportunities – with Sanita To’o also scoring three – but Uganda were largely in possession, limiting their opponents to fewer chances than they were treated to themselves.
In the second 15 minutes, Samoa’s Ariana Luamanu, who turned 17 less than a fortnight ago and is the World Cup’s youngest player, entered the field of play.
As a consequence of her introduction or otherwise, Samoa’s performance improved as they scored 12 times – one more than in the first quarter – and limited Uganda to four fewer goals than their opening segment, although the match leaders did still further increase their advantage.
At the halfway mark in the match, Uganda led 40-23 and were thoroughly in control of the contest.
The third quarter could have seen Uganda press home that advantage and really stamp their authority on the tie, but Samoa once again limited them to fewer goals than in the previous quarter.
The decision to hold what they had rather than expend unnecessary energy on really pinning Samoa back proved to be a wise one, as Uganda headed into the final quarter of the game 24 goals clear.
With that cushion, Cholock was replaced for the final 15 minutes – ending the match having converted 35 of her 40 attempts – with the goal shooter’s work complete.
Samoa produced an admirable, battling showing in the final quarter, scoring 15 times and conceding only 12 to close the deficit to 21 goals, but the match finished 69-48 to Uganda, with their lead gathered in the first half sufficient for them to glide home to victory.
Uganda will face Scotland in their Group D fixture on Sunday, with the game now promising to be enthralling battle to finish second in the group, while Samoa face a significant challenge in the form of England.
In a hard-fought match which brought the curtain down on day 1 of the tournament, Samoa put in a solid opening quarter, only for Scotland to assert their dominance in the middle period of the match.
The first quarter started with both sides trading three early goals apiece. A burst from the Thistles saw them establish the first significant lead of the match, but a miss under the net allowed Samoa to come back. Two goals separated the teams at the end of the first quarter, with the one of the closest ties of the day in prospect.
Scotland were the first to open the scoring in the second quarter, but were then fortunate that the interception of their centre pass was not punished.
Samoan goal shooter Toa Tanimo was enjoying a prolific spell in front of goal, helping to bring the scoreline back to 15-14. However, good combination play by the Thistles attacking duo of Bethan Goodwin and Lynsey Gallagher helped Scotland to establish an eight-goal lead at the break.
Scotland started the second half in the same manner as they had left off, with confident interplay seeing them push the score out to 27-17. Samoa, by contrast, were struggling to string passes together and the deficit grew to 14.
Samoa goal attack Eseta Autagavaia picked up a rare goal on what was a frustrating day for her, but Scotland added another to finish the quarter with a 41-26 advantage.
Scotland pressed ahead in the fourth quarter, stretching their lead to a comfortable winning margin before acknowledging their vocal support.
Scotland centre Claire Maxwell said:
“The World Cup is fantastic, the atmosphere in there was brilliant. There were patches where we were excellent. If we can keep going and raising our game, we will be pleased. We did our research really well and got better and better through the game. The first quarter… maybe it was nerves, but we did not get our flow going. From the second quarter onwards, we really got into our groove.”