NWC 2019: Pool F preview

WITH plenty of exciting matches throughout the second stage of the World Cup we take a look at two eye catching games from Pool F that could help to determine the next stage of the World Cup. Australia, New Zealand, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Barbados and Northern Ireland are all in the same pool and will play three games each.

Australia v. New Zealand

Arch rivals Australia and New Zealand will face off for the first time this World Cup with both sides aiming to make it through to the next stage. There is plenty of history between the two countries with the Diamonds pipping the Silver Ferns at the post in 2015 along with the double extra time in the 2010 Commonwealth Games meaning there will be plenty of feeling in this game.

New Zealand have been slowly building with their connections across the court growing with each match. Noeline Taurua has a plethora of options across the court with the goal circle in particular bursting with talented shooters. Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Maria Folau are forming a nice combination with the moving circle causing havoc for defenders while the aerial skills of Bailey Mes are also a handy feature for the Ferns in attack. Te Paea Selby-Rickit also poses a threat with her accuracy and netball smarts key features of her game. there is no real weakness for the Ferns who through the midcourt have the likes of veteran and superstar Laura Langman who can steady the ship when necessary and then turn the after burners well and truly on. Defenders, Casey Kopua and Jane Watson have gone from strength to strength picking off errant passes and gobbling up any cross court passes making them a damaging duo. Katrina Rore and Phoenix Karaka have been equally as impressive, while Karin Burger has been influential across the court in wing defence given her immense hands over pressure and attack on the ball.

The Diamonds have toyed with their line-up throughout the opening days of the competition searching for the most damaging combination across the court. With versatility in mind the Australians have plenty of options across the board especially through the midcourt. Vice-captain Liz Watson has been crucial through the midcourt often starting in centre and using her driving force and speed to penetrate through the opposition defence, pairing well with dynamic wing attack Kelsey Browne. Browne has been influential in attack with her pace, precision and vision hard to stop making her a key cog for the Diamonds. In the shooting circle Caitlin Bassett has been strong under the post while Caitlin Thwaites has put on a masterclass with her silky movement, high volume of shots and accuracy. Steph Wood and Gretel Tippett have both played important feature roles for the Diamonds while defenders Sarah Klau and Courtney Bruce have been pivotal in goal keeper denying easy access to goals.

Given the star power across the court and each sides mastermind coaches expect a tight battle to claim not only bragging rights but better positioning going forward. There will be plenty of exciting match-ups across the court with Langman and Watson likely to go head to head along with Bassett and Jane Watson.

Zimbabwe v. Malawi

Zimbabwe have been the surprise packet of the World Cup so far this year leaving many excited about what is to come. The Gems have upped the ante in each and every contest fighting hard to claim two victories in the pool stage and progress. Meanwhile Malawi have stuck to their strengths and used their slick ball movement to work their way out of trouble.

The relatively unknown Zimbabwe side have set tongues wagging with many amazed by their composure and skill. Their fans came out in droves celebrating and spurring their country on in tight contests making them hard to stop when their tales are up. Goal shooter Joice Takaidza has been a revelation in the goal circle with the 192cm goaler making her presence felt holding strong and coming off the body at the right time to reel the ball in. Her general netball nous and accuracy is second to none while her combination with Sharon Bwanali is evolving each game. Felisitus Kwangwa has been a real game changer down in defence for Zimbabwe asserting herself on the contest and competing for every ball that came her way, using her clever footwork to get around the body of her opponent and get timely deflections. Her read of the flight of the ball is impressive taking some big intercepts to ebb the flow of opposition goals and propel the ball forward.

The Malawi Queens are no strangers to the big stage having competed both in the Commonwealth Games and World Cup. They have stood up without star Mwai Kumwenda, with goal shooter Joyce Mvula owning the goal circle with her athleticism, laid back nature and strength. Jane Chimaliro and Alinafe Kamwala have also showcased their ability to score and pose a viable option for Malawi in the goal circle. Midcourt player Bridget Kumwenda has been impressive finding good space in the attacking third and feeding the ball seamlessly into the shooters to give them easy access to goal.

With Zimbabwe riding a wave of success and filled with plenty of adrenaline expect them to put up a tough fight against the world number six. They have shown that they have the skill to take it up to teams higher ranked than them and the Gems well and truly have the belief. But on the other hand, Malawi will want to showcase their improvement and skill to claim another win.

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