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Sunday 7th August
Bronze Medal Match: New Zealand 55 def England 48
Gold Medal Match: Australia 55 def Jamaica 51
After heart breaking losses at each of the past two major international tournaments, Australia has reclaimed the Commonwealth Games title with a hard-fought victory over a gallant Jamaican team. It is Australia’s fourth netball gold medal from seven Games.
For Jamaica, this tournament is surely a sign of things to come. They will only get better for the experience, and we can expect them to be stronger again in Cape Town. Check our post-match Instagram reels for discussions on their World Cup preparation.
For the second time in the tournament the Diamonds had to wear their green away dress when playing against Jamaica. Some Aussie fans were worried, as they had lost the earlier match, but they put any thoughts of a hoodoo to bed, by winning gold.
New Zealand claimed the bronze medal with an upset win over England. It was a case of the 2014 heartbreak all over again for England. They were considered strong chances for gold right up to the semi-final stage of this tournament, but eventually ended up taking home no medal at all. It was a big turnaround from New Zealand who England had beaten by 10 goals just three days earlier.
Geva Mentor showed the netball community why she is one of the most highly regarded players in the world. She called injury time with a minute remaining in the bronze medal match, with the game out of reach, to allow Eboni Usoro-Brown to take the court for a final time as an English Rose. Usoso-Brown was teary as she entered the court, no doubt appreciating the recognition of the moment by Mentor, after expecting to finish her phenomenal 116-test cap netball career on the bench.
There was no question about who the crowd was supporting – England in the bronze medal match, and the Sunshine Girls in the gold. With a strong local contingent of Jamaican fans, and many who just hoped to witness a changing of the guard, it was a brave fan wearing Diamonds merchandise in the stadium. And if we thought the English crowds were noisy, the Jamaican fans took it to a whole new level.
And speaking of loud, dissatisfaction with the umpires during the gold medal match saw the crowd chanting, ‘Gary! Gary! Gary!’’ Reserve umpire Gary Burgess kept his head down on the bench and did his best to ignore the calls.
It was the last time on a netball court for English defenders Stacey Francis-Bayman and Eboni Usoro-Brown. Francis-Bayman announced her retirement from all forms of netball earlier this year, before her premiership win with West Coast Fever, but Usoroo-Brown’s announcement came just hours before their bronze medal match. Both athletes started their international netball careers together and in a bittersweet moment, played their last game together. Enjoy retirement ladies.
English coach Jess Thirlby has been wearing headphones throughout recent matches at the Commonwealth Games. Whether it’s so she can block out the undoubtedly noisy crowd, or she’s listening to advice or stats through them, we’re not quite sure.
The media zones are always interesting spaces that bring out the best and worst in people. From incredibly talented writers and photographers who are there for the distance, and love nothing better than a chat between games, a snort-laugh at the end of a very long day, and too much junk food when the nerves kick in, to a few that….(we will leave it on tour).
The volunteers have been incredible in Birmingham. Friendly and helpful, they’ve gone above and beyond to support all the workforce and athletes. From coffee runs to dance offs and media wrangling, everything has been done with a smile on their faces. Many of them have put jobs, families and lives on hold to work long and tiring hours, and they’ve always done it with a smile. From all of us, thank you!
This Aussie gold medal was extra special because it also marked the Australian team’s 1000th Aussie Commonwealth Gold.
Layla Gusgoth was showing very few side effects from her run in with the goal post yesterday.
Eleanor Cardwell took a fall in the final minutes of the bronze medal match, she played out the game but was visibly uncomfortable. It initially appeared to be a knee injury, but post match she was seen on crutches with an ice pack strapped to her ankle.
Helen Housby was also spotted on crutches after a calf injury that subbed her out of the match.
Paige Hadley was once again ruled out of the match, but wore her playing dress to stand on the line with her Sisters-in-Arms.
Gary Burgess has been a key absence across the last few days of the tournament. One of the world’s most respected umpires, the rumour mill says that he might be nursing an injury. If that’s the case, we hope he recovers soon.
Australian umpires, Joshua Bowring and Bronwen Adams were both given the nod to umpire the Bronze Medal match, while New Zealand’s Angela Armstrong-Lush and Gareth Fowler received the call up for the gold medal match.
Congratulations to all umpires on a phenomenal effort across the Games.
Once again New Zealand kept their turnovers to a minimum – producing just six for the match.
Gina Crampton (New Zealand) – 25 assists, 36 feeds, 28 centre pass receives, 4 pickups.
Kelly Jury (New Zealand) – 4 gains, 4 deflections.
Nat Metcalf (England) – 42 feeds, 15 centre pass receives.
Australia and Jamaica shot well in the final – Australia 55/57 (96%) and Jamaica 51/52 (98%).
Liz Watson (Australia) – 24 assists, 44 feeds.
Kate Moloney (Australia) – 6 pickups.
Latanya Wilson (Jamaica) – 9 deflections.
Shamera Sterling (Jamaica) – 9 pickups
Kelly Jury (New Zealand) – 25 penalties
Courtney Bruce (Australia) – 21 penalties
PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Grace Nweke, Silver Ferns Goal Shooter, was a standout in the Bronze Medal match against England with her sharp hands and rebounds which allowed the Silver Ferns a target in the circle, and safe conversion of their hard-won ball. Nweke shot 44/48 at 92%
Gina Crampton played a captain’s game for New Zealand, with 36 feeds, 28 centre pass receives, four pick ups and just two turnovers. England tried three wing defences against her, but couldn’t quell her influence.
Once again it was a shoot-out between Jhaniele Fowler (46/47) and Gretel Bueta (37/37). Their radically different styles made the gold-medal match extremely entertaining, Fowler able to command space with her size and height, Bueta to use the space above the court with heroic leaps. We’ve seen in this tournament something of a shift towards athletic goal shooters with massive splits and jumps, rather than only tall holding shooters.
Sarah Klau and Cara Koenen both had a tremendous impact when they came on, responsible in helping to change things up and turn around a worrying situation for Australia in the second quarter. Neither had received much game time in the previous few matches, but didn’t miss a beat.
Not getting much explicit glory, Ash Brazill (three gains, four pickups) and Kate Moloney (six pickups) were quiet achievers in the grand final, modestly racking up the stats and making the Diamonds midcourt machine hum. Gold was a just reward for two passionate players who had previously not made the national team for a marquee tournament, but deserved their 60 minutes of fame, through all the sacrifices and perseverance over the last decade.
It’s impossible to go past the mercurial Shamera Sterling, who was a warrior in a beaten side. Even against the smart short flat passes of Australia, she came out with the best defensive stats, three gains, six deflections, seven pickups, and five contacts but zero obstruction penalties. After this experience she is turning into a leader at the back of the Jamaican line and will be even more fearsome at the 2023 World Cup.
Bronze medal game:
New Zealand 55 def England 48 (14-13, 15-10, 12-12, 14-13)
Coming off the back of a loss against Australia yesterday, the England Roses were determined to finish the tournament with a medal on home soil and a fitting send off of retiring team mates Eboni Usoro-Brown and Stacey Francis-Baymen. The numbers crunched by Netball Scoop showed that the 2018 Commonwealth Games winners, the English Roses, were tipped to win the Bronze Medal, however, the Silver Ferns showed much improvement from their last match with a solid start.
The strong defensive effort around the English Roses’ goal circle, dogged chase of the loose ball and accurate feeding into Grace Nweke meant that New Zealand were able to capitalise off their gains and challenge England with a one goal lead at quarter time.
The goal circle for New Zealand was congested to start with, but opened up when Te Paea Selby-Rickit drew her defender away from the post for Nweke to challenge her opponent one-on-one. Throughout the game, Nweke’s takes and offensive rebounds (4) meant that New Zealand were capitalising off their possession, unlike the Roses who often struggled getting the ball consistently into their circle.
The majority of the four intercepts from New Zealand at half time had come from the defensive effort of Kate Heffernan and Kelly Jury in the Roses’ goal third and on the transverse line, where the Ferns’ pressure had stifled movement and forced the ball wide or backwards. This was achieved through a press, with the Ferns working hard to push their opponents high to block their vision into the circle.
Eleanor Cardwell again proved to be a strong option under the post for the Roses, with her long split, one-handed takes, and strong contest of the ball. Nat Metcalf provided an outlet with her speed to release the pressure when the defense of the Ferns stifled flow down the court, working well with Malcolm who balanced out the court. Francis-Bayman injected energy and exuberance into her side, contesting each ball and chasing loose ones.
Despite gained ball for the Roses, a few misses of bread-and-butter distance goals for clutch player, Helen Housby, showed the momentum was difficult to shift and the Ferns punished with fluent transition and finding the circle edge withf Whitney Souness and captain, Gina Crampton, demonstrating their finesse in attack.
In the final quarter, to match the movement and strength of Phoenix Karaka, Cardwell moved out into the goal attack position and Jo Harten entered the game to provide a different range of movement and strength under the post. This may have also been spurred on by Housby who was having her calf rubbed down at the end of the third quarter. The connection between the midcourt and Harten was instantly advantageous with some feeding connection, although attempts to change the momentum with defensive intercepts by the Roses was still not enough to eat away at the generous lead by the Silver Ferns.
Despite some fluent passages of play from the English Roses, they struggled to deliver the ball safely into their circle, as Karaka and Kelly Jury managed to pick off passes right until the final whistle. Geva Mentor stood up in the final quarter to deliver several gains for the Roses, having been caught behind Nweke for most of the game, but unfortunately, this seemed to come too late.
Although comparatively highly penalised (77 team penalties to the Roses’ 56), the Silver Ferns managed 5 more intercepts and 3 more gains, showing the improved defensive smarts of what was one of the youngest Kiwi sides to appear a Commonwealth Games (turnovers were almost even with 6 to New Zealand and 7 to the Roses).
NWEKE 44/48 (92%)
SELBY-RICKIT 11/14 (79%)
TOTAL 55/62 (89%)
CARDWELL 31/34 (91%)
HARTEN 4/5 (80%)
HOUSBY 13/17 (76%)
TOTAL 48/56 (86%)
ASSISTS: CRAMPTON 25, SOUNESS, METCALF 18
GAINS: JURY 4, MENTOR, KARAKA 3
PENALTIES: NZ 77-56 (JURY 25, KARAKA 21, MENTOR 17)
Gold Medal game:
Australia 55 def Jamaica 51 (14-12, 15-17, 16-10, 10-12),
A new rivalry in world netball was established in a classic gold-medal showdown, just three days after the last-gasp victory of the Sunshine Girls over the Diamonds. With the packed crowd booing any decision favouring Australia, the Jamaicans rode with controlled passion in the first half, pushing back against any surges from the opposition.
Well-timed substitutions for the Diamonds partway through the second quarter caused Jamaica to lose potency, and a margin of 10 goals built, before Jamaica turned the tables in the last quarter to threaten within two. In an incredible statistic, there were only three missed goals out of 119 attempts across the match. True Australian grit in defence and confidence in attack brought their mojo back just in time to keep a barely comfortable margin as the final whistle blew, earning the 1,000th total Commonwealth Games gold for Australia and bringing the title back down under.
Jamaica started with swarming defence in the Australian goal third, a box zone designed to expand and contract around the circle edge and herd the Diamonds together. Latanya Wilson and Shamera Sterling had several tips and gains early, forcing Australia to reset using Jo Weston multiple times. The Jamaicans were set on blocking access to Gretel Bueta, Steph Wood filling in the spaces near the circle edge.
Quite early a few feeds to Jhaniele Fowler were dropping short, and a deflection by Courtney Bruce led to a run of three goals to Australia. Still, the stature, positioning, and strength of Fowler were hard to combat, as she netted 25/26 in the first half while the Diamonds incurred 38 penalties to 26 for the Sunshine Girls.
Bueta started to figure out her holds and the ball moved more safely for a while, especially with a quick release from captain Liz Watson, opening to a six-goal lead. However, Bueta’s tactics were a bit mixed and unclear, as she kept coming out of the circle laterally, and sometimes reset to a feeder rather than shooting from close range. Jamaica on the other hand suffered errors due to staunch Australian one-on-one defence featuring Ash Brazill, forcing poorly calculated passes through court. It was left up to the heroics of their circle defence Wilson and Sterling to keep rejecting the ball and bouncing it back down court. A 5-1 run to Jamaica in the last two minutes of the first quarter narrowed the margin to two.
In the second quarter Sterling began attacking any early release from Australia, deflecting shots and feeds with ease. She also was more mobile and anticipated Bueta’s movement along the baseline, causing the Australian goal shooter to have three turnovers in the first half. Meanwhile the Australian defence did all they could to switch from the 2-on-1 on Fowler to cover Shanice Beckford at the front, but the diminutive veteran goal attack was simply too good and already had a handy four goals from four attempts.
Jamaica began sending the ball to Fowler much earlier, growing in confidence and leading the quarter 10-4. Nicole Dixon-Rochester was a solid contributor, leading her team with 20 goal assists for the day and safely transitioning the ball from defence. Diamonds coach Stacey Marinkovich wasn’t going to wait for disaster, promptly bringing on Sarah Klau at goal keeper, moving Bruce to goal defence, and Cara Koenen at goal shooter with Bueta out to goal attack.
Bueta persisted with stepping in on every shot, with Koenen conscious of screening the defenders away. Jamaica was not overly familiar with Koenen, and didn’t know which of the two tall shooters to focus on. Both Sterling and Wilson were often stuck together, leaving miles of space for the other Australian to drive into and score. Slick timing from Koenen kept finding space under the post or on the baseline, and she also sighted Bueta’s moves early with accurate feeds. The addition of Klau looked promising early, as she got her feet around Fowler for a deflection gain. Australia leveled the game 23-all after 10 mins.
With the presence of Klau, backed up by Bruce, Jamaica was no longer confident to pitch in long feeds. Instead they cleverly adapted to steadily build to the circle edge before the pass to Fowler. The momentum balanced out and the teams entered the half-time break even on 29 goals.
The third quarter was fantastic for Australia who truly dominated as the new players grew into their work, opening a 10-goal lead at one point. Liz Watson showed sizzling timing to do as she pleased in accessing the circle edge, nullifying the influence of wing defence Jodi-Ann Ward. There was a clear focus on making every shot count, as Bueta started by sending six extra passes out of the circle before being happy to shoot. Short flat passes using triangles proved effective, and the Diamonds goalers cleared space for each other, making two legitimate options near the post, nailing 16/16 for the period. It was notable that there were zero feeds and goal assists from the wing and goal defence for Australia in this game, showing they wouldn’t risk long balls and kept the passes sensible to the forward line.
Klau was the hero for the quarter, starting behind and off the body, getting her feet around for several deflections on Fowler that normally aren’t possible. Jamaica were second guessing their feeds and making awkward errors in general play, finishing with five turnovers in fifteen minutes. Key culprits Beckford and Ward each had three for the match.
Australia led the quarter 10-1. Jamaica’s defence were lost, covering the post shooter but allowing the other tall Australian goaler to romp in with skilful drives and jumps. The injection of Adean Thomas on at wing attack brought new speed and angles in Jamaica’s attack, with Beckford enjoying more space and more triple-plays, shooting her first goal for more than 30 mins. Topped off with 100% shooting, the Sunshine Girls steadied and clawed back to be down by only six goals, the same margin at three-quarter time against Australian three days ago.
In the final quarter Jamaica’s defenders came alive – their whole team were passionately energised and they got the ball to a shot for Fowler quickly.. Reminiscent of the pool match between the two sides, it was the turn of the Diamonds attackers to freeze, with the Sunshine Girls picking up multiple gains.
Playing out of her usual position, goal defence Bruce ruffled her opponent Beckford, giving the Jamaican a backpack to wear on every drive. It looked that the Diamonds were pulling themselves back from the brink of an embarrassing capitulation just in time. Each of their players contributed, Moloney getting another good pickup to add to her admirable tally of six, and shooter-to-shooter plays reappearing. Klau played as well as any goal keeper could be expected against the world’s best shooter, challenging well from the side or behind. Holding a seven-goal lead with two minutes remaining, the Diamonds party started on the sidelines. Australia closed out the tournament with a 55-51 win.
FOWLER 46/47 (98%)
BECKFORD 5/5 (100%)
TOTAL 51/52 (98%)
BUETA 37/37 (100%)
KOENEN 15/15 (100%)
WOOD 3/5 (60%)
TOTAL 55/57 (96%)
ASSISTS: WATSON 24, DIXON-ROCHESTER 20, BECKFORD 15
GAINS: BRAZILL, STERLING, WILSON 3
PENALTIES: AUS 89-53 (BRUCE 21, KLAU 19, WILSON, DIXON-ROCHESTER 14)
1 – Australia
2 – Jamaica
3 – New Zealand
4 – England
5 – Uganda
6 – South Africa
7 – Malawi
8 – Wales
9 – Scotland
10 – Northern Ireland
11 – Trinidad & Tobago
12 – Barbados
Check out all the scores and stats from the whole tournament HERE.
A SPECIAL THANKS
Netball Scoop was among a very small group of netball news teams who were on the ground, at each and every session of the entire Commonwealth Games tournament. The days were long for our three journalists and photographer in Birmingham, and our support teams back in Australia and New Zealand.
But we were happy to do it. We love netball, we love our fans and we know that the work we are doing will elevate netball’s profile.
So, to everyone who read our wraps, watched our vlogs or reels and shared our content, we thank you. Your support has not gone unnoticed.