2022 Commonwealth Games review: Scotland
AS the curtain closes on another Commonwealth Games, we take a look back at how each of the netballing nations fared in our team-by-team review series. Next up is Scotland, who, after a shaky start against Wales, settled into the tournament and were able to showcase the youth coming through the side and end up ninth overall.
GAMES AT A GANDER
Scotland had a tough opening opponent, taking on world number ones Australia. The Diamonds showed no mercy to the Thistles, running out 53-goal victors. After a slow start in a winnable game against Wales, Scotland hit back in the second half, but could not close the gap enough to go down by six goals. From there, they suffered a heavy loss to Jamaica (36 goals), but easily dominated Barbados (44), and then were competitive against South Africa (19). Entering the ninth placed playoff, Scotland took on British rivals Northern Ireland, and got the job done in a low-scoring encounter, winning by 10 goals, 43-33. Realistically outside the heavy losses to Australia and Jamaica, the Thistles were highly competitive throughout, and could easily have knocked off Wales with a better start, but alas had to settle for fifth in the group and ninth overall.
What really stands out about Scotland is the evenness of the side across all thirds of the court. Midcourter Iona Christian teamed up well with Hannah Leighton to do all they could to set up Scotland’s scorers. Christian picked up a team-high 76 goal assists from 141 feeds, while also managing six deflections and two intercepts across the tournament. Leighton, who has graduated from being a circle defender to a midcourter, had 62 goal assists from 94 feeds, three intercepts and 10 deflections. In attack, Bethan Goodwin took full advantage of feeds into the goal circle, shooting 127 goals from 148 attempts, while having 24 goal assists from 33 feeds, four rebounds, two intercepts and two deflections. Though not a huge stat-padder, captain Claire Maxwell was a rock in that wing defence position.
Scotland has the most exciting youth in the world, with only Maxwell (34 years old) and Emily Nicholl (28 years old) above 26. They majority of the list is 22 and under, with many of them already producing at a high level. The trio of shooters from Goodwin to Niamh McCall (72 goals from 97 attempts and 44 goal assists) and Emma Barrie (66 goals from 86 attempts) are ones that will only get better with time, while goal keeper Rachel Conway (eight intercepts, 10 deflections and seven rebounds) another one who the Thistles can lock in for over a decade aged just 21. There are so many great young talents that Scotland is a nation to watch well into the future.
Scotland might have only picked up the two wins for the tournament, but the Thistles are well-placed for the future. It seems they are closing in on those sides in the fifth to eighth ranked brackets, and could leap into those spots in the coming years. Unlike a lot of those sides, the Thistles are predominantly young, and with continuity through the Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) with the Strathclyde Sirens, and for some heading overseas to the ANZ Premiership or Suncorp Super Netball leagues, the Scottish side is one that will be exciting for many years.