NWC 2023: Australia 86 – Zimbabwe 30
World number one Australia completely outplayed Zimbabwe in their first match at the Netball World Cup 2023 in Cape Town, beating their African counterparts 86-30.
This was just the second World Cup meeting between the two countries. Australia won the only other encounter 73-37 four years ago in Liverpool.
Both teams remained the same for the first half of the match, with coaches Stacey Marinkovich and Ropafadzo Mutsauki appearing to take a “wait and see” approach. In the third quarter though, Marinkovich rung the changes, bringing on the remaining reserves and making several positional switches, including Ash Brazill moving from wing defence to centre and Jo Weston moving from centre to goal defence for Australia.
For Zimbabwe, captain Felisitus Kwangwa switched from goal defence to wing defence, Joice Takaidza from centre to goal defence and Sharleen Tanaka Makusha from wing defence to centre.
With Zimbabwe claiming 51 per cent of the possession during the first two quarters, the latter stages of the match saw the 2022 Commonwealth Games champions completely stamping their authority on proceedings. The Aussies claimed 15 intercepts, considerably cutting down the passing options of Zimbabwe.
Australian captain Liz Watson brushed off having to step from the court to be re-strapped for a light scratch, saying it was good to get the pressure of the first game out of the way despite being the top-ranked team in the world.
“There are some really strong countries here and international netball is getting tighter all the time. We’ve had some nice success over the past 18 months, this was a great start and now we can build from here and go all the way. We just have to embrace being number one and be proud of that.”
It was a less-than-impressed Zim coach Mutsauki who addressed the media after the match.
“We lacked character today, especially in the second half. We gave Australia too much respect. It is now back to the drawing board before tomorrow.”
Courtney Bruce was named Most Valuable Player. Even though she only came on in the third quarter for Australia, coach Marinkovich used her versatility to great advantage. Bruce started at goalkeeper and then moved to wing defence, centre and goal defence.
Q2: 41-18 (21-7)
Q3: 62-24 (21-6)
Q4: 86-30 (24-6)
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Courtney Bruce (Australia)