Crowd support will be well and truly on Jamaica’s side when they take on Australia in the gold medal match. The Caribbean side will go in as hot favourites to take out top spot on the podium, after a powerful and clinical display throughout the tournament, despite never having made it this far in the tournament. However, the Australians will be keen to return to top billing, after being knocked off their perch by England at the last Commonwealth Games.
England will be seriously disappointed to drop at least two, if not three places, after their 2018 triumph, while New Zealand will be hoping to avoid another fourth placing, after their disastrous campaign on the Gold Coast.
And while most pundits are tipping Jamaica, Australia, England and New Zealand, in that order, the numbers suggest that both matches could be much closer than many suspect.
Australia and Jamaica both made their way from Pool A to the gold medal match, after convincing wins in their semi-finals.. It’s interesting to note that both these teams also had an extra 12 hours rest on Thurs after playing in the first match of the day, compared to England and New Zealand, who played off in the last match of the day.
In Australia’s 9 goal win over England, they converted 80% of their centre passes to goal, compared to England’s 75%. However, in Jamaica’s 16 goal drubbing of New Zealand, they converted 82% of their centre passes to goal, compared to a disappointing 67% for New Zealand.
TEAM GOALS SCORED
In total goals scored across the tournament, Australia and Jamaica sit almost equal on volume, but the latter are 2% more accurate. New Zealand and then England sit well behind the top two in volume, with just a slight dip in accuracy.
TEAM GAINS (INTERCEPTS, PICK UPS, REBOUNDS)
The Jamaicans have wowed the crowds with their ability to gain ball, but perhaps surprisingly, are only fractionally ahead of the Australians in this metric, while England lead New Zealand. However, both are significant margins behind.
|Ranking||Team||Gains (best to worst)|
MATCH PLAY ERRORS
New Zealand have prided themselves on their low error rate during the tournament, and are by far the best at this measurement. England aren’t too far behind them, Australia sit mid table, while Jamaica are the third worst nation at giving ball away. However, given that Australia and Jamaica score more goals, they are also more likely to make mistakes. If there is one area of weakness for Jamaica, this is it!
|Ranking||Team||Match play errors (best to worst)|
On an individual level, a number of players have shone.
For total goals, it’s unsurprising that Jhaniele Fowler and Gretel Bueta top the list, while Grace Nweke and Eleanor Cardwell are not far behind them. To shoot a high volume at such incredible accuracy is a testament to the work behind the scenes that these women do.
|1||Jhaniele Fowler (Jamaica)||227||97%|
|2||Gretel Bueta (Australia)||216||95.6%|
|3||Grace Nweke (New Zealand)||197||91.6%|
|4||Eleanor Cardwell (England)||176||92%|
GAINS (Intercepts, rebounds)
While Shamera Sterling has been exceptional all tournament, she’s had to take a back seat to Shaquanda Greene for the total number of gains. However, in the top 10, she is still ranked number two, comfortably ahead of the two Aussies who sit in the top 10. None of the New Zealand or English defenders hit the top ten for this measurement.
|Ranking||Team||Gains (best to worst)|
|2||Shamera Sterling (Jamaica)||44|
|3||Courtney Bruce (Australia)||30|
Individually, Liz Watson is a class above everybody else for the work she does feeding the circle, although the combined efforts of Jamaican centre courter Nicole Dixon-Rochester and goal attack Shanice Beckford provide a twin pronged approach that’s difficult to slow down. Nat Metcalf is also a crucial asset to England.
|1||Liz Watson (Australia)||150|
|3||Nat Metcalf (England)||121|
|4||Nicole Dixon-Rochester* (Jamaica)||97|
|5||Shanice Beckford (Jamaica)||108|
|9||Gina Crampton (New Zealand)||96|
*Ranking based on Dixon-Rochester playing one less game
CENTRE PASS RECEIVES
Centre pass receives also tell an interesting story, with wing attacks dominating most positions, other than for Jamaica where goal attack Shanice Beckford is their prime mover across the line, and England, where Helen Housby shares the honours fairly evenly with Nat Metcalf.
|Ranking||Name||Centre pass receives|
|1||Shanice Beckford (Jamaica)||112|
|3||Liz Watson (Australia)||96|
|6||Nat Metcalf (England)||92|
|7||Gina Crampton (New Zealand)||90|
|9||Helen Housby (England)||84|
SO WHAT DO THE NUMBERS TELL US?
Jamaica v Australia
The only team undefeated so far, Jamaica will be brimming with confidence going into the gold medal match, but the numbers suggest it could be too close to call.
For Jamaica, their defence will turn over ball, and once it’s in Jhaniele Fowler’s hands, she will put it through the net. Shanice Beckford is one of Jamaica’s key prime movers, and Australia will need to slow or shut down her elusive ability to take the centre pass or feed the circle. If Jo Weston can impact early by running with Beckford and keeping her out of the contest, it could create some added pressure on Jamaica.
With Courtney Bruce and Sarah Klau both ranked inside the top ten for gains, coach Stacey Marinkovich might need to consider putting them both out on court at goal defence and goal keeper respectively – if Bruce has the foot speed to slow Beckford. If not, youngster Sunday Aryang could be another alternative.
However, both Nicole Dixon-Rochester and Khadijah Williams have shown they are more than capable in this respect if left unattended, while both wing defence Jodi-Ann Ward and goal defence Latanya Wilson also do a power of work in this respect. So Australia will need a team defence that starts right from goal shooter.
Liz Watson is Australia’s main avenue at both centre pass and feeding the goal circle, and in their pool game, Jodi-Ann Ward proved capable to the task of slowing her down. This will be one of the key match ups across the game, and Steph Wood needs to step up to take the load off Watson. While her timing is brilliant, whether Wood has the conditioning to do so, after struggling with injury for much of the season, is another question.
Jamaica’s swarming defence is difficult for any team to handle, and Australia will need to keep running onto the ball, rather than standing still as they’ve a slight tendency to do in their fourth quarters.
The X factor could be how Jamaica handle the pressure of their first ever gold medal match appearance, and the umpiring and which defensive unit can stay clear of any penalty trouble that comes their way.
England v New Zealand
The numbers suggest that England should defeat New Zealand, with match play errors the only measurement that the Silver Ferns come out on top. Neither team had athletes inside the top 10 for gains or intercepts, while New Zealand sits 13 team gains below England across the tournament.
Captain Nat Metcalf has been important for England, starring in both goal assists and centre pass receives. Either Kate Heffernan or Kaylia Johnson will need to work hard to contain her. Gina Crampton sits somewhat lower down the list for both measures, but it was still surprising to see her spend half the game on the bench against Jamaica, given that she’s her side’s top performer in this respect.
Likewise for England, Ellie Cardwell is their best performed shooter, and England would appear to benefit from giving her more court time than the 35 minutes she received against Australia.
England have taken significantly more gains than New Zealand in their six matches, and will need to continue to turn over ball if they hope to walk away from the tournament with a medal. It’s an area where New Zealand have struggled – sitting 8th on the list of 12 nations, and they will need springs in their heels, or a slightly different game plan, to impact against England’s ball security, which is second only to their own.
The X factor could be the match up between Grace Nweke and Geva Mentor. England’s experienced defender got inside her head in their most recent match up, but Nweke had a much better performance against Jamaica when she came into the match from the bench.
*Thank you to Luke Oates for the centre pass data