On Tuesday, host nation Australia defeated third-ranked England 51-41 at the 14th Netball World Cup in Sydney. The number-one ranked Aussie Diamonds have won the competition on ten previous occasions, including the last two with the English Roses failing to secure a single victory over them in the competition. The first quarter was fiercely contested with both teams showing just how badly they wanted the victory that would most likely see them progress to the semi-finals against Jamaica.
The Australians were ahead 12-9 at the first break but it was England whose goal shooters were scoring with a 90% accuracy rate, where the Aussies lost balls in the circle and their defence had to recover the ball from the clutches of the English attack. In the second quarter the attacking combination of goal shooter, Caitlin Bassett, and goal attack Natalie Medhurst upped their game and increased accuracy to see Australia go to half-time with a lead of 25-20. The third quarter saw the defensive combination of goalkeeper Eboni Beckford-Chambers and goal defence Sonia Mkoloma play out of their skins to force eight consecutive turnover balls on the Australian centre pass.
But even with their exceptional teamwork, they could not prevent Australia from stretching the lead to 39-30 at the break. In the final quarter, the Roses attack fell short in their goal circle, which placed additional pressure on centre Jade Clarke and wing attack Tamsin Greenway in the centre third. So much that in an attempt to work miracles, Clarke injured herself with a dramatic slip onto her coccyx but chose to continue playing after the injury timeout.
There was nothing that the English women could do further to avoid defeat at the Allphones Arena. The reigning champions simply proved too powerful. Australia will play South Africa on Wednesday, and are the clear favourites.
Photo credit: Netball World Cup SYDNEY 2015