NWC19: Day 10 – Trans-Tasman rivals to decide title once again

TWO thrilling semi-finals, two results that were equally one part unbelievable and one part heartbreaking, but Australia and New Zealand will now do battle for the second time in three days after they down South Africa and England by just two goals each.

AUSTRALIA (55) defeated SOUTH AFRICA (53)

The Diamonds went in as deserving favourites, having gone undefeated throughout the tournament and were not only World Number Ones, but reigning champions as well. They got off to the perfect start with Caitlin Thwaites and Gretel Tippett chosen to start over usual preference of Caitlin Bassett and Steph Wood. Thwaites and Tippett did not miss a shot in the opening term, nailing all 14 goals, while Liz Watson was instrumental with eight goal assists from nine feeds in wing attack. Up the other end, South Africa was a little loose with the ball, recording seven turnovers to four, though Lenize Potgieter (seven goals from eight attempts) and Maryka Holtzhausen (three from three) were strong as Erin Burger showed all her experience in centre with four gaol assists from five feeds. Australia took a four-goal lead into the first break and by half-time that margin had stretched to eight courtesy of a 17-13 term. Thwaites and Tippett were still running at 100 per cent and Lisa Alexander left the pair on the court, with Watson picking up another eight assists. Sarah Klau was holding up well in defence on Potgieter, who had found her range with all 11 attempts going in, as Burger was again the player to watch for the SPAR Proteas with nine assists.

Both coaches made their first changes in the third term with Kelsey Browne coming to the court for Watson at wing attack, while Khanyisa Chawane replaced Shadine Van Der Merwe at wing defence. The SPAR Proteas seemed to benefit the most, as they restricted the Diamonds scoring to just 12 as they piled on 16 themselves to cut the deficit to four by the final break. It was a high penalty quarter as the stakes went up, with the Diamonds picking up 20 penalties to 18, as well as four turnover to one. Burger and Bongi Msomi caused a headache for the Australian defence, helping themselves to 12 assists from 20 feeds into the goal circle, while Karla Pretorius was having her usual impact, picking up an intercept in each of the past two quarters, while pressing up the court. Up the other end, Klau picked up a crucial intercept, while Paige Hadley and Browne had 11 assists themselves, but elsewhere the connection had dried up. The final term saw Alexander roll the dice with star keeper Courtney Bruce on for Klau, while Watson returned to the court with Browne off, but Hadley shuffled into wing attack and Watson into the centre position. The final term was nerve-wracking as Potgieter nailed three consecutive goals midway through the quarter to cut the deficit to just one goal with four and a half minutes remaining. Wood and Thwaites then responded with three of their own to push the buffer back out to four, and when Wood converted with 40 seconds remaining, the Australians were home. Potgieter and Thwaites both sank all 10 attempts in the final term, while Watson and Burger’s influence in the midcourt was not to be underestimated, with Pretorius and Bruce’s experience up their respective defensive ends also crucial. South Africa had cut the final margin to two thanks to two late goals, but it was not enough to secure a final berth.

Thwaites finished the match with all 30 attempts successful, as did Tippett from her 23 attempts in three quarters. Watson (24 goal assists, 29 feeds and one intercept) and Hadley (16 goal assists, 21 feeds) were enormous through the midcourt. For South Africa, Potgieter 39 goals from 41 attempts was strong despite great work from both Klau and Bruce, while Holtzhausen (14 from 16 and eight goal assists) worked hard. Burger was sensational with 24 assists from 34 feeds, while Pretorius picked up a couple of intercepts, and Msomi was strong in wing attack with 12 assists and 20 feeds.

ENGLAND (45) defeated by NEW ZEALAND (47)

After a massive Commonwealth Games Gold Medal victory last year and a repeat dose against the Australians in the final game of the Northern Quad Series on home soil earlier this year, England was widely predicted as the team to beat in Liverpool. While no one was willing to write off the Silver Ferns who were building nicely, the Roses were the side everyone seemed to expect to make the final, but New Zealand ripped up the script in a see-sawing semi-final. The sides started as their fans had come to expect, not throwing any surprises like the Australians had earlier in the day. It was the Silver Ferns who burst out of the blocks to race to a 12-9 quarter time lead credit to their connections down the court and Laura Langman winning the early battle in the match-up of the world’s two best centres. Langman picked up six goal assists from seven feeds, while Gina Crampton helped herself to four from eight, as Maria Folau (10 goals from 12 attempts) and Ameliaranne Ekenasio (two from two) both benefited from their midcourt’s passing. Serena Guthrie still had three goal assists, but it was Jo Harten who also had three, finding herself playing a secondary role to Helen Housby whom the former shot three goals from five attempts, while Housby nailed six from seven. The second term saw the England side we had come to expect out on the court as they revved into action with 15 goals to nine as both Housby (eight goals from nine attempts) and Harten (seven from eight) lifted their scoring volume. When Ekenasio put the Silver Ferns up by four with just over four minutes left, little did the home crowd expect what came next. The Roses piled on seven consecutive goals to take a 24-21 lead into half-time with Harten and Housby going beserk swapping bibs in the goal circle, but the Silver Ferns were left to rue six turnovers to their opposition’s three. Natalie Haythornthwaite had replaced Chelsea Pitman at wing attack and she immediately had an impact with five goal assists. Up the other end, Ekenasio had scored five goals from five attempts, while Geva Mentor had held Folau to just four from five in a quieter quarter. Guthrie broke even with Langman with three goal assists each, but the English had now taken momentum into the main break.

The second half almost saw a repeat of the first, with New Zealand getting the early start to level the scores at the four-minute mark and both Folau and Harten picking up misses. It was not until the last few minutes that the Silver Ferns picked up the bid, with Housby putting her side in front by one, then the Silver Ferns converting five consecutive goals – four to Ekenasio – before goal-for-goal in the final 90 seconds of the term saw New Zealand retain a three-goal advantage. Ekenasio was upstaging her highly rated teammate with a massive 10 goals from 10 attempts in the quarter, while Langman had again taken control over Guthrie, recording eight goal assists for the term and teaming up with new wing attack Shannon Saunders who picked up three herself. Folau still shot five goals from four assists, while Jane Watson picked up an important intercept in defence. For the Roses, Harten sank six goals from seven attempts, while Housby did not miss from her three shots she put up. Haythornthwaite continued to be a terrific inclusion off the bench with six goal assists from three feeds, while Eboni Usoro-Brown worked hard with Mentor, collecting a rebound and pushing hard up the court. The final term was a nail-biter as New Zealand got out to a five-goal advantage in the eighth minute, before England managed three goals from three attempts to cut the deficit to just two with five and a half minutes to play in the match. The home side repeated the dose time and time again, but the reliability of Ekenasio at the post saw the shooter respond each and every time. She was again the preferred option to put the ball to post with eight goals from nine attempts in the quarter, while Folau netted all three of her attempts. Langman finished the game as she had started with another five assists from her five feeds, leading New Zealand to a remarkable 47-45 win. Housby (seven goals from eight attempts) and Harten (100 per cent accuracy from five attempts) were again prominent, as Harten tried everything to will her side over the line with a quarter-high five goal assists in the last, as well as two intercepts and a rebound, but it was not be enough as the Silver Ferns steadied and were in front when the final whistle blew.

Langman was phenomenal for the Silver Ferns with a mammoth 22 goal assists – seven more than anyone else on the court – from 29 feeds and also picked up an intercept. Ekenasio converted 25 goals from 26 attempts and worked well with Folau who had 22 from 26, while Watson never stopped trying in keeper with four intercepts and two rebounds to her name. For the losing side, Harten was a star working hard in the attacking third, picking up 11 goal assists to go with her 21 goals from 25 attempts, as well as three intercepts and two rebounds, while Housby had 24 goals from 24 attempts. Haythornthwaite proved to be a vital inclusion picking up a team-high 15 goal assists from 26 feeds, while Usoro-Brown and Mentor teamed well in defence. Ultimately though, it was the experience and grit from the visitors that got them over the line, progressing through for another crack at the world champions.

BARBADOS (42) defeated by SCOTLAND (53)

Scotland secured eleventh spot with an important 11-goal win over Barbados in the opening match of the night. The Thistles were too strong from the get-go to race to a seven-goal lead by the main break. The Bajan Gems hit back to cut the deficit by a goal at the last change, but Scotland steadied to run out 53-42 winners. Lynsey Gallagher scored 27 goals from 28 attempts and had 13 goals assists, while Emma Barrie helped herself to 24 from 30. Claire Maxwell was the key playmaker on the court with 17 goal assists from 28 feeds, while Emily Nicholl continued her strong form across the tournament with two intercepts at goal defence. For Barbados, Shonica Wharton was a scoring machine with 31 goals from 34 attempts, while Samantha Browne picked up 12 goal assists, and in defence, Shonette Azore-Bruce‘s remarkable fortnight continued helping herself to three intercepts and four rebounds.


The Calypso Girls locked up ninth spot with a strong nine-goal win over Northern Ireland. They trailed at the first break by a goal, but took control in the second courtesy of a 17-10 quarter and then never looked back on their way to a 57-48 victory. Samantha Wallace was enormous with 36 goals from 38 attempts, while Kalifa McCollin nailed all her 20 attempts, and had 16 goal assists on the day. Onella Jack had 18 assists herself, while Daystar Swift was prominent in defence with two intercepts and three rebounds. For the Warriors, Noleen Armstrong had 24 goals from 28 attempts, teaming well with Emma Magee (17 from 25) while Magee also had 13 goal assists. Caroline O’Hanlon had a team-high 15 goal assists from 34 feeds, while fellow experienced player, Fionnuala Toner had five intercepts in the defensive half.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments