Malawi overcomes slow start to thwart Thistles

AN INCREDIBLE 20 goals to eight final term saw sixth ranked Malawi come back from the brink of defeat to knock off Scotland in a stirring first round Netball World Cup action. The Queens trailed at every break after a slow start, but dug deep and found a way to win, getting up by six goals in the end, 55-49.

The frantic final quarter saw the combination of Joyce Mvula and Mwai Kumwenda user every bit of their experience to pile on the first five goals of the term and go from a six-goal deficit to within a single goal. Though Niamh McCall would break the deadlock at the three and a half minute mark of the term, the Queens shooters added six of the next seven goals to make it 12 of the first 14 to turn a 35-41 deficit into a 46-43 lead.

Scotland managed to steady the ship a little, but by then the experience and unflappable shooting of the Queens pair could not be denied. Neither Mvula (38 goals) nor Kumwenda (15) missed a single shot. Though the Scottish pairing of McCall (17 goals from 19 attempts) and Bethan Goodwin (32 from 36) were outstanding, it was the reliability and extra experience of the veteran shooters that stood tall in the crunch 15 minutes.

Goodwin was remarkable in the first term which helped get Scotland out to a 17-9 lead at quarter time. Shooting 12 of 13 while McCall had five of six, the Scottish dominance forced Kumwenda to the bench for Mvula after Jane Chimaliro (two goals, six goal assists) started on court.

Credit has to go to the midcourt of Iona Christian (eight goal assists from 14 feeds) and Hannah Leighton (five from eight) who took total control over Thandie Galleta and Jane Dambo. It forced the Queens to move Galleta to wing attack and Takondwa Lwazi into the centre bib.

Though down on the scoreboard, the Queens did not panic and kept shuffling the magnets around including shifting Towera Vinkhumbo into goal keeper and Dambo into goal defence, which seemed to be more effective. Though down by as much as 12 goals with four minutes to play in the second term, Mvula and Kumwenda piled on six consecutive goals to stay in touch,

Scotland continued to put pressure on but could never quite shake Malawi, with the Thistles not making a substitution until the momentum was well and truly in the Queens’ favour. Cerys Finn came on for Rachel Conway three and half minutes into the final term, but by then, the fierce momentum or the Queens could not be stopped and Malawi maintained the control until the final siren, winning by six goals.

South Africa (61) defeated Wales (51)

In the other relatively close match, home nation South Africa kicked off its campaign with a hard-fought win over Wales. The Proteas burst out of the blocks to pile on 18 goals to nine in the first term and really put the foot down to state their World Cup intentions. After that though. the Feathers held their own, only scoring one less goal than their highly fancied opponents. in the end though, the fast start ultimately helped South Africa to the 10-goal win.

Ine-Mari Venter (43 goals from 47 attempts, five goal assists and three rebounds) was potent under the post, as the midcourt of Khanyisa Chawane (20 goal assists from 26 feeds) and Bongi Msomi (16 goal assists from 29 feeds) gave their shooters plenty of opportunities. Georgia Rowe (29 goals from 31 attempts) was the most deadly shooter for the losing side, while Ella Powell-Davies worked hard in goal defence.

Jamaica (105) defeated Sri Lanka (25)

In the most crushing result of the day, Jamaica showed no mercy against Sri Lanka, storming to an 80-goal win. They piled on at least 23 goals in each quarter and even scored 30 in the final term, while keeping Sri Lanka to just seven or less in each 15-minute period. By the final buzzer, the Sunshine Girls had kicked off their campaign with a 105-25 victory.

Captain Jhaniele Fowler (42 goals from 43 attempts) and Romelda Aiken-George (33 from 34) both piled on the pressure, as Khadijah Williams (24 goal assists) was fantastic in midcourt, and Shamera Sterling (four intercepts) typically lively in defence. Thishala Algama did the majority of scoring for Sri Lanka with 17 goals from 22 attempts, while Dulangi Wannithileka (three goals from sevne attempts, eight goal assists and two rebounds) tried hard.

England (90) defeated Barbados (29)

In similar circumstances, England kicked off its World Cup campaign with a dominant 61-goal win over Barbados. Though the Bajan Gems had brought in sisters Sasha Corbin and Kadeen Corbin, the former Roses were unable to stem the tide as the winners piled on 20-plus goals in each of the four quarters to win, 90-29.

Rotating plenty of combinations, the Roses saw the likes of Olivia Tchine (36 goals from 44 attempts) and Eleanor Cardwell (31 from 35) dominate the scoreboard, as Helen Housby (16 goals at 100 per cent, 14 goal assists and two intercepts) was also fantastic. In defence, Fran Williams pulled off five intercepts and only had two penalties and one turnover. For Barbados, Kadeen Corbin scored 13 goals from 17 attempts and had five goal assists before moving into goal keeper, while Latonia Blackman finished with 12 goals from 15 attempts.

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