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 Wales who defied plenty of odds to have a good tournament, knocking off Scotland in the group stage on its way to an eighth placed finish at the Games with a playoff defeat at the hands of Malawi.
GAMES AT A GANDER
Wales came in with a tough first-up clash against Gold Medal contender – and eventual Silver Medal winner – Jamaica, but held its own at different points of the game to only lose by 29 goals. An outstanding start against Scotland, then holding off a Thistles comeback saw Wales run out six-goal winners in what was a huge win for the nation after missing the most recent World Cup. Unsurprisingly Wales was brought back down to earth by Australia, but again, given the margin of 46 goals, it was contained compared to some of the other one-sided hidings handed out by the world number ones. A determined fight against South Africa – and another strong start – was not enough for the Welsh, though they could take solace from an 18-goal loss. Rounding out the group stage, Wales picked up a second win against Barbados, though it was a lot closer for comfort than any thought coming into the game, with the Welsh recording a 60-44 victory. It sent them into a seventh placed playoff with Malawi, who has been a nation on the rise the last few years, and though Wales fell short, the fact they got within six goals (56-62) is something they can be proud of.
The incredible exploits of wing attack Bethan Dyke really caught the eye, as she went on to produce 106 goal assists from 178 feeds, in what was a memorable Games for her. Still only about to turn 28, Dyke is a player who has proven herself at Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) level and would not look out of place at a higher level again. Alongside Dyke, the shooting combination of Georgia Rowe (159 goals from 173 attempts, eight goal assists from 11 feeds, seven rebounds and one deflection) and Betsy Creak (109 goals from 134 attempts, 45 goal assists from 53 feeds, three rebounds, two deflections and one intercept) were both consistently good. Determined leader Nia Jones (six intercepts, seven deflections and eight goal assists from eight feeds) was strong at wing defence as well.
Though she could have been mentioned above, it was worth saving defender Ella Powell-Davies for this bracket. The 23-year-old is capable of playing in both the circle and at wing defence, and while she mostly played the latter, is one with a bright future. She had a massive nine intercepts, 19 deflections and two rebounds, and even set up seven goal assists, teaming up well with Jones in the back third. Powell-Davies also had a good connection with fellow circle defender, Christina Shaw – who is only 24 herself – in reducing the scoring damage from opposition nations.
Wales had a carnival that fans could be proud of, with the Welsh able to take it right up to Malawi and almost snatch seventh spot at the Commonwealth Games. Punching above their weight in terms of all those nations above them have Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) representatives, the purely VNSL-represented side was able to come away with two group wins and a lot of learnings to take to the next major international event.