New World Netball World Championships
13 November 2007
Attention Sports Editors
Pacific nations stamp mark on New World Netball World Championships
The Pacific region will have a strong presence in the quarterfinals of the New World Netball World Championships after New Zealand, Australia, Samoa and the Cook Islands all qualified today.
Jamaica, England, Malawi and South Africa fill the remaining spots for the last eight with those games being played on Thursday. Defending champions the Silver Ferns will play South Africa, the No 2 ranked Australians will meet the Cook Islands, Jamaica square off against Samoa and England take on Malawi.
Section play for teams ranked nine to 16 will be played tomorrow (Wednesday).
Jamaica and Australia topped 90 points today, the Silver Ferns easily accounted for Botswana while England took their time in repelling a spirited South Africa.
England stitched up the top qualifying spot from Pool D with a scrappy 62-32 win over the South Africans.
Despite the loss tonight, South Africa claimed the second qualifying spot from the pool for the quarterfinals after recording two earlier wins.
England made a strong start, jumping out to a decisive early lead but a lot of the good work was undone as a period of sloppy play broke their momentum.
The introduction of 1.88m goalshoot Louisa Brownfield, goal defence Sonia Mkoloma and the re-jigging of the midcourt paid dividends for England after halftime. The composure and structure returned to England's game as they powered through a decisive period of play.
``It's delightful to have qualified and a relief,'' England coach Margaret Caldow said.
``It was good tonight to have the run-off against South Africa, they're a top team and they certainly put us under the pump there for a while.''
``It was ideal preparation as we go up to that next level and a wake-up call.''
The Silver Ferns closed out pool play with a convincing 76-20 win over Botswana as coach Ruth Aitken continued her trend of mixing up her combinations for the pool matches.
In the first ever match between the two nations, the slightly built Botswana players struggled against New Zealand's height and bigger physical presence.
The points continued to pile up for the Silver Ferns, who went into halftime with a 45-10 lead and continued to build on that for the rest of the match.
``It took us a wee while to get our rhythm tonight which was credit to Botswanna. They played quite a short game, made it hard and teased us a little bit,'' Silver Ferns assistant coach Leigh Gibbs said.
Jamaica were untroubled in disposing of Singapore 91-35 in the final Pool C leaving the Sunshine Girls as the only side from the West Indies in the top eight playoffs.
"It was a good solid performance overall from us," coach Connie Francis said.
"Now we know we have to step up. Samoa will be a very tough opponent and we will need to lift our game."
Sixth ranked Samoa burst past the 10th ranked Trinidad & Tobago in a final quarter surge to grab a thrilling 52-48 win in the all-important Group B match.
A productive patch where they fed off Samoa's errors and finished strongly had Trinidad & Tobago in control when they forged to a six-goal advantage.
Not to be outdone, Samoa fought back gamely, paving the way for tense and action-packed final 15 minutes.
The Pacific Island team responded magnificently with a huge lift in commitment and composure to scupper Trinidad & Tobago's early advantage in a frenetic finish.
``They were very, very hungry and it was a very physical match out there,'' Samoa captain Frances Solia said.
``Going into that last quarter, experience really did come into it at the end for us,'' Samoa captain Frances Solia said.
The 11th ranked Cook Islands upset world No 8 and long-standing rivals Fiji with a 42-36 win to grab a place in the top section of the quarterfinals.
It was a serious disappointment for current South Pacific Games champions Fiji, who have made the top eight at the last two world championships.
Key to the Cooks victory was some strong defence from the experienced Angela Tangimetua and a brilliant performance by captain and centre Ritua Petero, who provided the spark for her team's passing game.
"This is absolutely awesome. We knew this was a big game for us after Jamaica. We knew that we needed to win to get to the top eight which was our goal," Petero said.
It took eight minutes for Scotland to score in the first Pool B match and by then Australia had put 14 goals on the board in a powerful display of dominance throughout the court.
The game's surprises came in the unwelcome form of injuries to Australian midcourters Selina Gilsenan who rolled an ankle, and Natalie von Bertouch who went down after colliding with Claudia Henison.
Scotland was paid the respect of a thoroughly professional performance by Australia, whose passing, marking and shooting were relentlessly swift, tight and accurate.
Malawi edged Wales 55-52 to seal second spot in Pool A.
Holding a narrow three-goal lead heading into the final 15 minutes, Malawi presented the better discipline to control possession in the final minutes of the game as Wales tried a desperate late charge. The African champions were able to maintain the margin they had established after three quarters to secure the win.
"I am so happy because you realise that we can get a place in these championships,'' Malawi midcourter Mary Waya said.
"We came here without a ranking and now we have a number.''
Barbados found their best form so far to dispatch Malaysia 62-38 but both will play in the nine to 16 playoffs, starting tomorrow.