NWC 2023: New Zealand 45 – Jamaica 52
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 Maiai 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)