ByNeil Leverett

  • After winning all three Preliminary games, England’s netball side edge close contest with Jamaica 56-48
  • Roses on verge of last-four spot ahead of Wednesday’s clash with Trindad and Tobago
  • Hosts will face fancied South Africa on Thursday to determine likely semi-final opponents
LIVERPOOL, UK – As the Netball World Cup 2019 moves towards its’ latter stages, after beating rivals Jamaica, England will secure a last four spot with victory on Wednesday.

 

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So far, so good, for Roses

England’s Netballers made it four wins from four on Monday, after beating Jamaica in a predictably tense contest at the INF Netball World Cup 2019, edging the Sunshine Girls 56-48 at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool.

After winning their opening three Preliminary games against Uganda, the all-British clash against Scotland and then thrashing Samoa, Tracey Neville‘s charges passed the first litmus test of the their home tournament.

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Victory against already eliminated Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday will see the hosts book their place in the last four, before then facing the much-vaunted South African’s later this week to determine a semi-final against either New Zealand, or a highly anticipated rematch with Australia.

 

Hosts breeze through Prelims

With the World Cup introducing a new format for the competition, England made light work of their three initial pool games, first recording a 64-32 win against a Uganda side – who can still reach this Friday’s semi-finals.

Then beating the Scotland in an all-British meeting by a final scoreline margin over double the Thistles’ the Roses then signed off their opening prelims by dismantling Samoa by 90 points to 24.

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Jo Harten and Helen Housby have both been hitting very much right note through the tournament’s early stages, but Wasps’ Rachel Dunn had also been sharing the goal burden.

Between the three ladies, neither one – as a starter – dropped below a goal shooting success rate of 83%, whilst also finishing in the nineties as an average. Harten in particular impressed against the Samoan’s with a 100% record up to half-time, scoring all 31 efforts on goal.

 

Battling Jamaica win

As Stage Two began on Monday, England were primed for their first concrete test against the side ranked number two in the world, but came out on top again versus the side they beat in the Commonwealth Games semi-finals last April, winning by eight points.

With the winner effectively booking their semi-final berth, the spoils were shared in a cagey opening half, as the hosts led by two points. With the towering Geva Mentor thwarting Marvette Anderson‘s Sunshine Girls in attack, in defence, Shamera Sterling was somewhat silenced my England’s industrious midfield, with Chelsea Pitman pulling the strings.

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The Roses pulled away in the final quarter, as Harten and Housby finished with averages of 88% and 82% respectively, but were rather eclipsed by Jamaica’s Jhanelle Fowler’s incredible flawless card, with the skipper converting all 24 of her shots.

Regarded something of a thorn in the Roses’ side of late, their relatively emphatic second half win was quite the marker ahead of Wednesday’s duel with Trinidad and Tobago, which could see a number of changes employed.

 

Proteas wait in wings

Providing Neville guides her side to a win against the second Caribbean opposition in three days, victory against the Calypso Girls – winless and only able to finish ninth at best – South Africa then take their turn to burst the host’s balloon on Thursday.

The Proteas ranked fifth in the world have been many a pundit’s dark horse this summer on Merseyside, and their World Cup cause has yet to be dented after they too beat Jamaica, whilst hammering Fiji.

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Lenize Potgieter has been the star of the show for her nation, having not dropped below a goal average of 90% herself, as Scotland’s World Cup hopes were ended by the Queensland Firebirds’ prolific 25-year-old’s 100% record against them – winning by thirty points.

As one of the more diminutive team’s in the competition, the South Africans do however, possess agility and skill in abundance, which could prompt the Roses to be in exploratory mode again the Trinidadians.

Dunn will be expected to play goal attack, but both Natalie Haythornthwaite and Francesca Williams may start on Wednesday at opposite ends of the court. Wesley Gomes‘ charges will not be underestimated, but there may well be a dose of caution in England’s play.

Regardless, as England and South Africa meet in the following contest, the winner will likely avoid the three-time reigning World champion Diamonds in the last four, with a tough, yet less stern a test against either the Silver Fearns or the impressive Malawi in wait  – depending on other results.

 

England face Trinidad and Tobago in their fifth INF Netball World Cup clash at the M&S Bank Arena, at 3pm UK time on Wednesday.

 

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