Sunday, 6 August 2023: Australia reclaimed the Netball World Cup after defeating England 61-45 in the final of the tournament at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Sunday. That saw the Diamonds lifting the trophy, which was presented by South African president Cyril Ramaphosa, for a record-extending 12th time.
Earlier in the evening in the bronze medal playoff, Jamaica defeated New Zealand for the second time in a matter of days to secure their first podium place since 2007.
At the end of 10 days of enthralling action in Cape Town, England goal attack Helen Housby was named Player of the Tournament and best attacking player. New Zealand’s Kate Heffernan was named the best midcourt player while Australia’s Courtney Bruce was selected as the best defender.
Before handing over the trophy to the Australian team, President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed those gathered at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, saying that the past 10 days of action had converted him into becoming a netball fan. He also hailed the uniquely African vibe at the tournament and pledged to assist in growing the sport in South Africa by building a dedicated netball arena.
ENGLAND 45 – 61 AUSTRALIA
Having lost out to New Zealand by just one goal in the last Netball World Cup final in Liverpool four years ago, Australia ensured there would be no repeat scenario when they defeated England 61-45 in the final in Cape Town on Sunday.
England were playing in their first ever Netball World Cup final after beating defending champions New Zealand in the semifinal while the Australians were contesting their ninth consecutive gold-medal match, having never finished lower than second in the tournament’s 60-year history.
Australia came out firing to take a two-goal lead after the opening exchanges, Steph Wood proving to be the creative force for the Diamonds on attack early on. England coach Jess Thirlby responded immediately, bringing on Fran Williams for Layla Guscoth at goal defence. The move proved an effective one with the Roses managing to close the gap and equalise at 12-12, but throwing away their opportunity to edge in front while the Australians were doing well to hold onto their possession. There was nothing to separate the teams by the first break, however, as they finished the quarter all square on 13-13.
It was the Diamonds who looked more in control after the break, showing patience to work their way around the England defence. While the Roses continued to work hard on turning ball over, they weren’t always capitalising on those opportunities that had been created, thanks to some solid defence from Jo Weston at goal defence and Courtney Bruce at goalkeeper.
That saw the Diamonds edging ahead and taking a four-goal lead into halftime.
When the sides met on Thursday in their final group game in Cape Town, which England won by one goal, the Australians enjoyed a six-goal lead at halftime and would have been wary of letting that slip again.
True to form, the Diamonds had clearly learned from their mistakes, putting their foot down in the third quarter and looking like they were one step ahead of the Roses throughout. Their connections looked smooth and their confidence was rising, making them even more dangerous on attack. Thirlby continued to make multiple changes to the England lineup, and while there were moments of individual brilliance from the Roses, that did little to slow the flow of Australian goals. Kiera Austin scored as the whistle sounded to ensure her side went into the final break 10 goals up.
That was always going to be an unlikely gap to bridge in just 15 minutes for England who, to their credit, continued to fight until the final whistle. But with the Australians within grasp of the title they last won in 2015, the world’s top-ranked side simply continued to do what they do best, steadily building on their advantage to ensure they lifted the trophy for a record 12th time.
Speaking after the match, a beaming Australian goal defence Jo Weston said: “It is beyond words, thrilled is probably an understatement, so ecstatic that we managed to pull it off on the day and now we are the world champs. They’ve just got such a potent shooting end and they were really accurate last time, we tried to adjust and stay in play a little bit more and build continual pressure and hope that we could turn over the ball and it worked in the end.”
England defender Fran Williams said: “I think we are gutted about our performance because we know we are so much better and I think we have shown that this tournament. But fair play to the Diamonds, they threw everything at us and were definitely the deserved winners on the day. We still ticked off some huge history markers and milestones this tournament and we definitely are proud of that.”
Q2: 23-27 (10-14)
Q3: 36-46 (13-19)
Q4: 45-61 (9-15)
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Kiera Austin (Australia)
NEW ZEALAND 45 – 52 JAMAICA
The Sunshine Girls gave their nation even more to celebrate on Jamaican Independence Day when they defeated five-time champions New Zealand to claim the bronze medal at the Netball World Cup in Cape Town on Sunday.
Jamaica have played in six World Cup bronze medal matches since 1991 and won three of them but all of those victories have come against England. This time they were up against a Silver Ferns side still reeling from a draw against hosts South Africa and then a semifinal defeat at the hands of England.
The Jamaicans were boosted by the fact that they had claimed their first ever Netball World Cup victory over the Silver Ferns three days earlier and on Sunday they were determined to secure their second.
Both teams came out with plenty to prove and the battle was fierce from the start. The Silver Ferns were dealt a blow when wing attack Gina Crampton was helped off the court after rolling her ankle just two and a half minutes into the match. She was replaced by Whitney Souness and the New Zealanders promptly scored three unanswered goals to edge in front.
It was a gap they held onto for much of the opening period before the Jamaicans finally managed to equalise at 10-10. Two excellent intercepts from the Jamaican defence, first goalkeeper Shamera Sterling and then goal defence Jodi-Ann Ward, gave the Sunshine Girls the opportunity to edge ahead. Despite some risky high balls into goal shooter Jhaniele Fowler in the circle, which had cost them in their semifinal loss to Australia, the Jamaicans went into the break three goals up.
Te Paea Selby-Rickit replaced Maia Wilson at goal shooter for New Zealand at the start of the second quarter while Adean Thomas came on at centre for Jamaica a few minutes later, replacing Nicole Dixon-Rochester. Later in the period New Zealand captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio was also taken off after conceding several turnovers, with Tiana Metuarau taking her place at goal attack.
It was the defensive units on both sides that ensured there was no real flow achieved for either team. A low-scoring, evenly contested period was the result as Jamaica just held onto their lead heading into the halftime break.
The Jamaicans found their momentum in the third period as New Zealand coach Noeline Taurua rang in several more changes for her side. The Sunshine Girls racked up a run of six unanswered goals to surge ahead and win the championship quarter by three goals.
With a first bronze medal since 2007 within their grasp, the Jamaicans held their nerve to stay out in front in the final quarter to wrap up a 52-45 win and send the defending champions home empty-handed for the first time in Netball World Cup history.
Speaking after the match, a thrilled Jamaican wing attack Khadijah Williams said: “I’m feeling great but I’m not over the performance yesterday [in the semifinal] yet but I’m extremely pleased with today.
“It’s been an extremely difficult eight games in 10 days but I am also extremely grateful and I’m very proud of my teammates.”
New Zealand defender Karin Burger said: “I think it’s amazing to see how far netball has come that there are so many competitive teams out there putting their hands up.
“We put ourselves out there and we have high standards and obviously, this is not good enough. But we are acknowledging the other teams, they have played amazing netball, so big ups to the ones that are going to take that podium. We’ve got work to do and if this is a taste of what the next four years are going to look like, bring it on.”
Q2: 21-24 (10-10)
Q3: 32-38 (1-14)
Q4: 45-52 (13-14)
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Jodi-Ann Ward (Jamaica)
Individual player awards at the Netball World Cup 2023:
Player of the tournament: Helen Housby (England)
Best attacking player: Helen Housby (England)
Best midcourt player: Kate Heffernan (New Zealand)
Best defender: Courtney Bruce (Australia)
Final placings at the Netball World Cup 2023:
4. New Zealand
6. South Africa
12. Trinidad and Tobago
16. Sri Lanka