THE 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England are just around the corner. To celebrate, we are previewing each of the competing netball nations and predicting how they might fare in the tournament.
Today it is Wales, who came 11th in the most recent Commonwealth Games, but unfortunately missed out on qualifying for the 2019 Netball World Cup.
Currently ranked eighth, and the highest nation behind the ‘Big 5’ and two talented African teams in Uganda and Malawi, Wales has some talent that has been steadily improving through time in the Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL). The Welsh-based side Celtic Dragons certainly has a number of rising talents, as well as experienced heads to guide the side throughout the Commonwealth Games campaign.
In a two-game series against South Africa in the lead-up to Birmingham, Wales pushed the SPAR Proteas, and even lead at quarter time in yesterday’s match, before going down by 10 goals. Though South Africa was without Lenize Potgieter, it was still a promising sign for Wales to go the distance with the top five nation and not be blown away. With three of the top five nations – including South Africa – in Wales’ group, it will be a tough group to manoeuvre.
In the second of those games, co-captain Suzy Drane broke the all-time games record for Wales with her 112th cap. The midcourter has the experience in centre alongside the tough Nia Jones who can rotate into multiple positions, while Bethan Dyke fills out the likely starting three midcourters. In goals, Georgia Rowe and Betsy Creak are able to ply their trade for the Dragons and Team Bath respectively, while Ella Powell-Davies and Christina Shaw will lock down on opposition shooters.
Kicking off against Jamaica in eight days, it will be a tough challenge for Wales, but the midcourt is key. That game will be followed by British rivals Scotland which will have a real Dragons-Strathclyde Sirens feel to the contest, whilst the real winnable game comes last against Barbados. Wales should get on top there, and will gain great experience having another crack at South Australia, and world number ones Australia in between.
Expect Wales to notch up a win against Barbados, but do not be surprised if they push Scotland, and as they showed against the SPAR Proteas this week, the bigger three nations.
Betsy Creak, Georgia Rowe, Zoe Matthewman, Eleanor Roberts, Suzy Drane (co-captain), Bethan Dyke, Clare Jones, Shona O’Dywer, Nia Jones (co-captain), Christina Shaw, Leila Thomas and Ella Powell-Davies. Reserves: Millie Carter, Celyn Emanuel, Lucy Howells, Phillipa Yarranton
Friday, July 29 – Jamaica
Sunday, July 31 – Scotland
Tuesday, August 2 – Australia
Wednesday, August 3 – South Africa
Thursday, August 4 – Barbados