Netball: big four to meet in Commonwealth Games semi-finals
England face New Zealand, Australia to play Jamaica
Last Updated: 08/10/14 12:28pm
England face New Zealand while Australia and Jamaica clash in the Commonwealth Games Netball semi-finals at the Hydro Arena in Glasgow.
England will face Pool A winners New Zealand after securing their runners-up position in Pool B behind Australia. Anna Mayes' side finished off their preliminary games with an impressive 69-27 win over Barbados on Wednesday evening.
England's CWG semi-final record
- 1998 - lost to New Zealand (won bronze medal)
- 2002 - lost to Australia (won bronze medal)
- 2006 - lost to Australia (finished fourth)
- 2010 - lost to New Zealand (won bronze medal)
The Silver Ferns, who won the Commonwealth title at Melbourne 2006 and Delhi 2010, were victorious in each of their five pool games but have been pushed closely by Jamaica and Malawi, and are bearing the burden of injuries to shooters Catherine Latu and Maria Tuataia - both have been given a 50/50 chance of playing this weekend.
England recovered well from their demoralising one-goal defeat to Australia with dominating performances over Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados, but world no.2 ranked New Zealand will have to be taken at a much higher level competitively. Coach Mayes has tested different shooting pairings and midcourt combinations and her first choice starting seven still seems unclear. Shooter Jo Harten is likely to find herself up against her Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic team mates in the circle, with Casey Koupa and Leana de Bruin holding the Ferns’ defensive line. While England defenders Geva Mentor, Eboni Beckford-Chambers and captain Jade Clarke will be prepared if Latu and Tuataia make an appearance, having come up against their side Northern Mystics in the ANZ last season.
Harten told England Netball: “Tomorrow will be a physical day off with recovery in the morning, familiarisation with the Hydro for Sunday, and then back into training mode on Friday morning. It’s about being clever about what we do on and off the court, and staying together as a team. On Saturday, we’re going to put out a massive fight, push New Zealand all the way and be in that final”.
The other semi-final should be extremely physical with Pool A toppers Australia hosting the ever-improving Sunshine Girls. It will be a battle of the tall shooters with the Diamonds' 6ft 4in GS Caitlin Bassett underneath one post, while Jamaica have 6ft 6in Jhaniele Fowler-Reid and 6ft 5in Romelda Aiken to fight for the ball in their circle.
The world top four have once again made it through to the final stages of a major tournament but their progress has hardly been straight forward, with the likes of Malawi and South Africa proving tough opposition, while England and Jamaica are clearly closing the gap between themselves and the top two of Australia and New Zealand.
The placings will be decided in games on Thursday and Friday, while the bronze medal match will take place before Sunday’s 2014 Commonwealth Games Netball final.