NWC 2023: Wales 34 – New Zealand 83
Nweke out as Ferns get the win over the Feathers of Wales
The news overshadowing the Silver Ferns team as they took to the court for their Netball World Cup match against Wales on Monday was that goal shooter Grace Nweke will take no further part in the tournament in Cape Town.
Nweke limped off the court with a knee injury in New Zealand’s match against Singapore on Sunday and while early reports suggested the problem was not a serious one, just a day later the official statement came that Nweke had suffered a partial tear in her patella tendon and has been replaced in the squad by travelling reserve Tiana Metuarau.
Maia Wilson started the Wales game as goal shooter and duly delivered, notching up a 100 per cent average with 29 from 29 in the first half as the Silver Ferns powered into a 40-16 lead by halftime.
She extended that flawless record into the third quarter, adding 20 more goals to the rising New Zealand total, deservedly earning her the Most Valuable Player accolade. Metuarau was given her first taste of World Cup action when she replaced Ameliaranne Ekenasio with just over five minutes remaining in the third quarter and looked at home immediately as the Ferns continued to dominate.
While the fourth quarter was a better one for Wales, with only six goals separating the sides, the defending champions had no trouble in wrapping up the 83-34 win.
Speaking about Nweke’s injury after the match, New Zealand captain Ekenasio said: “We were really devastated when we found out about Grace, lots of emotions and lots of tears but we’ve always been really big on it being the full 15 of us and it’s been really important that everybody feels that they’ve got a place and they know their role as well and they can own it.”
“So, for us it’s about supporting [Grace], being around her and being there for her and also supporting Tiana as well. Also we don’t have time, we have to move so that’s really big for us and we’ve got to do it together – that’s the only way we’re going to be able to do it.”
New Zealand coach Noeline Tuarua added: “I don’t believe it is a big blow. If anything it’s probably forced the issue to consolidate faster… what we’ve always known in the team is that we can’t always rely on one person. We have to make sure we have players who can play in multiple positions but also players that can do their own job… sometimes things like
this galvanise teams so we’re just putting our heads down and seeing what happens the next day.”
Wales captain Nia Jones said: “When we were drawn in this pool, we knew we would possibly face the Ferns and I think where they are and their level of experience, they’re always going to be targeting a podium finish and it’s slightly out of our reach at the minute.”
“But we really had to break it down and see whether we could get under their skin really early, or force them into some errors, maybe cause a little frustration. At times we really did that. I think we were patient with the ball and took on their zone and were actually able to break through it and then other times I think we fell into their trap a little bit… so, a little bit of naivety there but we’ve got some inexperience in this group and next time round we’ll be better prepped for it.”
Q2: 16-40 (8-21)
Q3: 22-65 (6-25)
Q4: 83-34 (12-18)
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Maia Wilson (New Zealand)