Four years ago in Sydney, the She Cranes came eighth. They’ve bettered that by one place this time around, while for Zimbabwe, this was a more than respectable end to their first ever World Cup campaign.
For both teams, this was their final game of the tournament, but the first time playing against one another at this level.
The first quarter looked like it would see Uganda convincingly take the lead as they – led by Mary Nuba Cholock and Peace Proscovia – established a three-goal lead.
They scored 14 times across the quarter to maintain that three-goal advantage after the first 15 minutes, but Zimbabwe had begun to cut the deficit, clawing back admirably to stay in the match.
That fighting spirit from the Zim Gems continued into the second quarter. While they didn’t manage to reduce Uganda’s advantage, and the leaders in the contest always looked comfortable, Zimbabwe continued to move the ball around the court well and made it a contest.
The battle between the two African nations was only being added to by the vibrant support from the stands for each nation, which has become a familiar sight at this World Cup – a record-breaking one for the African teams.
Uganda were able to stretch their lead out in the second quarter, with Stella Oyella shooting at 100% after replacing Cholock, to help to take the half-time scoreline to 29-20 in the She Cranes’ favour.
As the third quarter got underway, the teams – through Proscovia and Joice Takaidza – traded goals, but the Zim Gems were able to step up a level as the quarter progressed.
The deficit was down to five at one point, when Takaidza scored Zimbabwe’s 37th of the contest, but a strong finish to the quarter from the She Cranes saw Oyella score three times in a row to give her side a 45-37 lead.
That advantage increased in the early stages of the final quarter, but – like the relentless drumming coming from their fans in the stands – Zimbabwe refused to back down.
The game exemplified the fantastic spirit that both teams have brought to the tournament, and despite Zimbabwe ultimately falling short – 58-47 – their determination to stay in the contest deserves much praise.
Uganda ended the tournament in winning form, but as both sides danced off court arm-in-arm, the contribution of both to the Vitality Netball World Cup couldn’t be over-stated.
Uganda’s Mary Nuba Cholock said:
“It’s been amazing, and so competitive from day one. Africa is rising – though we are competing with each other, we come from Africa, and we like to keep that bond together.”
Zimbabwe’s Ursula Ndlovu said:
“It’s been a great noise (inside the stadium). What I like about it is that it motivates us more. We are more focused; that’s how we motivate ourselves.
“If I don’t dance, I won’t be in form. That’s how I motivate myself. That’s our motto; that’s what we always do. It was a big celebration. We tried hard to match them but the best thing is to motivate ourselves with doing the best we can do.”
In 2007, Malawi famously defeated South Africa to register a significant fifth place in Auckland. Their win today ensures they will be competing in the fifth-place play-off match for the fourth consecutive World Cup.
If they are to equal their exploits of 12 years ago, they will need to find a way past world number two, Jamaica. Uganda, meanwhile, will hope to go one better than their eighth place in Sydney in 2015, when they take on tournament newcomers Zimbabwe in the play-off for seventh.
Malawi took advantage of early Ugandan nerves, racing into a 4-0 lead as Joyce Mvula wasted no time in finding her scoring touch.
Rachael Nanyonga was the first to register for Uganda, however there was no knocking Mvula from her stride, and when Lilian Ajio’s pass went astray, Malawi extended their lead to five.
Jane Chimaliro got in on the scoring act to take the score to 11-6, before, in the opposite circle, Peace Proscovia was penalised for footwork.
She soon made amends though, and Uganda cut the deficit to just three as they began to compete more effectively. Their momentum was halted when Nanyonga took too long on the ball and another overthrown pass gave Malawi opportunity to extend the lead, but an interception allowed Uganda to narrow to 12-9 at the quarter break.
More Ugandan wastefulness at the start of the second quarter was punished, as the lead went out to five. Malawi then looked to have returned the favour, when untidy passing presented Uganda with the ball, but they were unable to capitalise.
Mvula then scored her 15th – and Malawi’s 20th – goal of the game to take the lead out to 20-14, as Malawi were able to exploit the space behind Uganda’s mid-court players.
Malawi ended the half as they had started, firing on all cylinders to hold a 27-19 advantage at the break.
Mary Nuba Cholock stepped into the Uganda attack for the second half, and her presence made a difference immediately as she registered two early strikes.
An enormous leap by Proscovia, now playing goal attack, helped Uganda pull back to 32-27, and the crowd inside the M&S Bank Arena sensed that a comeback could be on.
However this hope was dampened by more loose possession from the She Cranes.
Cholock and Proscovia were still proving a potent combination, but Mvula was equally effectively at the other end, landing the final goal of the quarter to make the score 41-35.
Uganda wasted their first centre pass of the fourth and the deficit was back to seven. Cholock was then penalised, and a long pass gave Mvula the opportunity to extend the lead to 43-36.
A stretching interception from Stella Oyella at centre should have led to the margin being reduced, but once again the opportunity went begging.
Chimaliro got in amongst the goals for Malawi as time began to run out for the Ugandans, as she took the Queens’ lead out to 49-41.
Mvula took the advantage into double figures, and while Nanyonga registered the game’s final goal, the celebrations on the final whistle belonged to Malawi.
Not to be outdone by the post-game rhythm of the Zimbabweans, the Queens brought their own exuberance and energy to the court – celebrating their qualification for the fifth-place play-off with their vocal fans.
South Africa are in the semi-finals, while Uganda, Zimbabwe and Malawi are still in the hunt for fifth, meaning that this is the the first ever tournament at which four African nations will have finished in the top eight.
Proscovia, whose Uganda play Malawi tomorrow, said:
“It’s great news for the development of netball in Africa generally. For South Africa to push up into the top four is amazing – that is all of Africa performing and we are so proud of it.”
Of the battle for fifth – between the three remaining African nations and Jamaica – she said:
“It’s amazing to have all of us compete again, and it’s a great procedure that allows us to have a hope of getting to fifth. But all I can say is let the best team win – we are going to come in well prepared.”
While both teams remain in contention to finish fifth in the competition, this result means that Jamaica play Zimbabwe and Uganda face Malawi to qualify for that fifth-place play-off.
Fans hoping to see a battle between two of the world’s best goal shooters – Fowler and the She Cranes’ Peace Proscovia – will have been disappointed as Proscovia was left on the bench and Stella Oyella started under the posts.
It was, naturally, Fowler who opened the scoring, as Jamaica surged into an early lead. Oyella got off the mark as Uganda trailed 4-2, and she was in the thick of the action as her side levelled proceedings up at 6-6.
A sudden burst by Jamaica then saw them establish a three-goal advantage – a margin which they pushed out further to lead 13-9 at the end of the first quarter.
Fowler continued her impressive form in front of goal in the second corner, profiting from a Stacian Facey interception to help extend the lead to six.
The Ugandan contingent in the crowd then got their wish as Proscovia entered the court, and she was immediately on the score sheet to make the score 18-10.
When Lillian Ajio’s bounce pass was grabbed by a yellow vest the lead when out to 10, with Fowler remaining the only Jamaican to have had a shot. It was the Sunshine Girls’ goal number 29 which finally brought a different name to the scoresheet, with Romelda Aiken netting.
With 14 goals now the difference, Uganda were having difficulty in picking out their star forward. When she had the chance, Oyella missed, but there were no such mistakes from Fowler, who took the score out to 34-18.
Shanice Beckford came on for the Jamaicans and unlike Aiken, made her presence immediately count on the scoreboard. Oyella fumbled a bounce pass and Jamaica entered the changing rooms at half time with a healthy 35-20 lead.
Jamaica wasted their first centre pass of the second half, allowing Racheal Nanyonga and Proscovia reducing the deficit by two. The mini Ugandan revival was followed by more good news for the She Cranes, as Fowler was substituted. Unfortunately for Uganda, she’d already done the damage, netting 38 times from 39 attempts.
Proscovia brought up Uganda’s 30th goal with a shot that took and age to drop, and an improved quarter from the She Cranes saw them lose the 15-minute spell by just two, meaning that Jamaica’s overall lead was 51-34.
A looped pass early in the fourth quarter saw Jamaica extend their lead to 53-34. However this would turn out to be the Ugandans’ best quarter of the game, with Proscovia maintaining her 100% record as she helped bring down the Sunshine Girls’ winning margin, as the match finished at 61-48.
Tomorrow, Jamaica they face another African side in Malawi, while Uganda face Zimbabwe as all four teams try to keep alive hopes of a top-five finish.
Uganda’s Peace Proscovia said:
“It’s definitely not the result we wanted, but there were lots of positives to take. With Uganda still being an up-and-coming country in netball, we are pleased with our performance – it is a step up.”
Their 67-40 win ensures that the Proteas and England join Australia and New Zealand in the last four.
A strong middle phase of the game from Uganda narrowed the early gap that South Africa had established, but the Proteas’ ability to snatch possession and punish errors ultimately resulted in a comfortable victory.
Maryka Holzhausen and Lenize Potgieter helped South Africa to get their noses in front early on, while the trademark assured passing of Bongiwe Msomi was a feature early on.
Uganda were stern opponents from the start though, and came back to within one, missing the chance to equalise when Stella Oyella’s shot lacked accuracy. Shadine Van der Merwe then produced a close-range interception to get her side back on track, with them soon re-establishing a decent gap.
Potgieter was ruthless in front of goal, meanwhile at the other end, Oyella was outscoring her team-mate Peace Proscovia.
Potgieter eventually registered a miss with South Africa’s 24th shot of the game, but both teams continued to score at a good rate, with Uganda producing the composure and accuracy in front of goal to outscore their opponents 13-12 in the second quarter.
The lead South Africa had accumulated in the first quarter saw them through to half time with a lead, though, at 31-23. It had been a competitive first half between the top two nations in Africa, and both sets of attackers had impressed, shooting at over 90% accuracy.
The competitive nature of the contest continued into the third quarter, with an Oyella-inspired Uganda bringing the gap down to five at one point, 35-30.
However, her miss from under the post then proved costly, as South Africa sensed an opportunity to turn the screw. A change at goal keeper for Uganda failed to stop the flow of Potgieter goals, and although the boisterous Ugandan fans in the crowd were doing their best to lift their team, the game was slipping away from the She Cranes.
South Africa won the third quarter 15-10, taking an overall 46-33 lead into the final quarter.
History was beckoning for South Africa, as despite their second-placed finish in 1995, changes to the format of the tournament meant they had never actually played in a semi-final before.
They weren’t in the mood to let history slip away, and had stretched their lead to 16 within the opening minutes of the final quarter. Athleticism from Msomi and accuracy from Potgieter and Holtzhausen contributed to the Proteas’ most dominant quarter of the game, as they ensured that their semi-final spot was booked with a relatively comfortable margin of victory in the end.
The Proteas will now face fellow unbeaten side England in a clash to determine who will win the group, and whether their opponents in the semi will be current holders Australia or New Zealand.
South Africa’s Karla Pretorius said:
“We knew they were going to be a tough opponent – they always bring their best game against us. They have a typical African style of play and it definitely wasn’t easy for us – it was hard work but a good start and a good finish got us through.”
In the first ever meeting between Trinidad and Tobago and Uganda, the shooting firepower of both teams was evident throughout.
From the very start of the first quarter it was clear that very little separated the two sides; much of the action throughout the fifteen minutes was goal-for-goal.
The lowest shooting statistic in the quarter was 90% from Peace Proscovia, whilst the goal attacks on both sides, Kalifa McCollin and Stella Oyella, fired at 100%.
It was the Calypso Girls that eventually edged in front before things returned back to type, with the first quarter ending 17-15 to Trinidad and Tobago.
Quarter two saw Uganda seize early momentum, and with a turnover they were able to draw things level.
With Mary Nuba Cholock joining McCollin and Oyella at 100%, the goals continued to pour in one after the other.
Uganda finally found and converted their second turnover of the quarter as the fifth minute began to tick away but an errant pass into Cholock undid their hard work and Trinidad and Tobago were able to capitalize on the error.
Inspired by the opportunity gifted to them to draw things level, Trinidad and Tobago took the initiative again to break the goal-for-goal rhythm, reversing the early lead had Uganda established. As the whistle blew for half time the score was 31-30 to the Calypso Girls.
As things continued to tick over goal-for-goal once more in the third quarter, a footwork foul from Cholock threatened to allow Trinidad and Tobago to extend their lead, however a three-second infringement triggered by a strong all-court defense from the She Cranes meant they re-gathered possession.
This to-and-fro nature of proceedings stirred the She Cranes into a turnover and a steady stream of three goals in a row, with both Uganda shooters still at 100% as they took the lead once more from the Calypso Girls.
But this run of goals was immediately matched and then beaten by Trinidad and Tobago, who added one extra to take the lead back.
Responding to the momentum swing, Proscovia was brought back on for Cholock, which proved a savvy decision from coach Vincent Kiwanuka as Proscovia’s presence shifted things back in the She Cranes’ favour.
As the quarter ticked down, Uganda were able to push their lead to five goals, and went into the final quarter 46-41 up.
Strong zonal defence kicked the fourth quarter into action, with the She Cranes each manning their players to force a turnover on the Calypso Girls’ centre.
But the favour was soon returned and Trinidad and Tobago began to slowly eat into the Ugandan lead after a string of three goals were scored. An ill-timed miss from Samantha Wallace, however, stopped the Calypso Girls from being able to draw things back level and they were held at three goals adrift for the most part of the final quarter, eventually falling to a 57-54 defeat.
Samantha Wallace, Trinidad and Tobago’s goal shooter, said:
“It was a good contest. We knew they were going to come out and give their best. Everybody wants to improve their rankings so we knew what we were in for.
“I think we did really well I’m really impressed with the girls; compared to other games, I’m really impressed with them.”
Uganda captain Peace Proscovia said:
“I feel overwhelmed with joy to win that game. Most importantly the confidence that the players had to go out there – especially playing a team like Trinidad and Tobago – with very limited error rate was a hard one, we just needed to be very clinical and innovative but that’s what the team did, and I’m so proud of that.”
In what turned out to be the tightest game of the tournament so far, Scotland were quick to the mark from the centre pass. The Thistles attack tactfully opted for low movement around their shooting circle which saw Lynsey Gallagher get them off to a solid start.
The teams traded early blows, before an obstruction against the Ugandan centre saw the She Cranes take their opportunity to edge ahead.
They then capitalised on a missed opportunity by Scotland’s goal shooter Emma Barrie to pull three goals ahead, and as they built momentum the She Cranes’ defence and attack were equally as impressive. Impeccable precision in the shooting circle by both Stella Oyella and Peace Proscovia saw them finish the quarter 16-11 up.
They were able to extend this lead still further in the second quarter, despite the tireless determination of Emily Nicholl and Hayley Muleron to restrict their attacking options. By half time, the Ugandan lead had stretched out to seven, with the score 29-21.
The third quarter saw the Scots eat into that lead, though, as Barrie and Lynsey Gallagher upped their shooting percentages as the Thistles unsettled their opponents and brought the score back to within seven.
Any potential comeback was snuffed out by the Ugandans though, as they brought on Mary Nuba Cholock to assist Proscrovia in their shooting-circle, which allowed Oyella to drop to back to control centre court and see Uganda over the line.
Scotland’s Claire Maxwell, who was playing in her 100th international, said:
“It was great to play in such a fantastic atmosphere and such a big World Cup. I’m disappointed we didn’t get the win but we’ll push on for the next game – we will refresh and go again. It’s such a young squad and we can learn so much so we’re really looking forward to the next stage.”
Emma Barrie added:
“It was quite frustrating. We could have won that game but we did our best and that’s all we can do. My shooting could have been better but if it’s not 100% then I just need to keep trying.”
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.
Tracey Neville’s Roses made a strong start against Uganda after making a spine-tingling entrance in front of their home crowd.
England were switched on from the beginning, with goal shooter Jo Harten – winning her 100th international cap – starting well, and Helen Housby soon following suit.
Despite the best efforts of She Cranes shooters Peace Proscovia and Rachael Nanyonga, the final five minutes of the quarter saw a calculated England move into a commanding position, leading 15-6 at the end of the first period.
The second quarter was a closer affair, with England appearing unsettled as Uganda remained persistent, with Proscovia and Nanyonga displaying impeccable precision in the shooting circle.
At the other end though, Uganda’s defence could not hold England back as Serena Guthrie, playing in her third World Cup, and Chelsea Pitman were able to feed the impressive Harten. Uganda’s increased confidence in the second quarter prevented England from dominating, but the hosts still led by 10 goals heading into the third quarter.
Uganda showed their physicality in defence as they attempted to hold off England in the third quarter, but the Roses were in complete control going into the final quarter, leading 44-24.
The fourth quarter was similarly competitive, and one foul too many meant that Uganda’s centre Stella Oyella was sent off the court.
The Roses found their second wind, and worked hard to play the ball into Rachel Dunn, who converted 17 from 19 shots after her introduction. England were equally as impressive at the other end of the court, dealing well with an increasingly physical game to only concede six goals in the final quarter.
In front of an appreciative home crowd, England ran out 64-32 winners to open their home World Cup in solid fashion.
England’s Rachel Dunn said:
“Uganda are a really tough team, and after the test series we had against them last year, we knew they’d be a strong side. So getting them first out meant we had a few nerves to get over, but I think that performance sets a benchmark for us to build from.
“We felt the nerves in the warm-up, but I think the performance was good. The girls went out there and got a lead, and we didn’t look back from there.
“It was good to get a win, and a good win as well. It’s been a lot of years in the making, and it was great to get out there and get a win on the board in front of the amazing crowd.”