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Proteas draw thriller with defending champions while Jamaica and Sri Lanka claim victories

Hosts South Africa and defending world champions New Zealand produced the match of the Netball World Cup 2023 so far, playing out to a thrilling 48-all draw in Cape Town on Wednesday.

In the other matches of the day, Jamaica claimed an emphatic victory over Trinidad and Tobago while Sri Lanka earned their first win of the tournament by defeating Barbados.

To find out where you can watch all the matches live and on demand from the NWC2023, click here.

Here is a short recap of the action we have seen so far today:

SRI LANKA 60 - 56 BARBADOS

Sri Lanka were still in search of their first victory of the Netball World Cup 2023 when they took on Barbados in the final match on Wednesday.

History was not on their side with Barbados having claimed both of their previous head-to-heads at the Netball World Cup – their last meeting a 67-33 victory for the Bajans in Sydney in 2015. But they looked determined to change all that as they came out firing in the first quarter.

Barbados, who have already secured their spot in the 13th/14th playoff, were not playing with the same intensity they showed in their defeat of Singapore a day earlier, but managed to stay level, heading into the first break on 15-15.

A run of five unanswered goals at the start of the second quarter meant the Sri Lankans started pulling ahead. That brought about the introduction of Sasha Corbin at wing attack and the move of her sister, Kadeen, who previously won Commonwealth Games gold with England, from goal shooter to goal attack for Barbados. But they remained four goals down at halftime.

Barbados finally seemed to find their rhythm after the break and looked to be a completely different team as they quickly made up the deficit and then surged ahead, winning the third quarter by 22 goals to 12. But the Sri Lankans had a storming final quarter to come back at them to claim a memorable 60-56 win. That is the first time in 20 years that the Sri Lankans have beaten anyone other than Singapore at the Netball World Cup.

SOUTH AFRICA 48 - 48 NEW ZEALAND

South Africa kept their slim hopes of reaching the Netball World Cup 2023 semi-finals alive with a spirited performance against world champions New Zealand at a packed CTICC.

With the raucous local crowd effectively an extra member of the team, the Proteas came close to beating the Silver Ferns for only the second time in World Cup history. The draw in Pool G now means there is still a chance of progressing to the semi-final. For this to happen, Jamaica would have to beat New Zealand on Thursday while South Africa would have to do the same against Uganda. Goal percentage could prove problematic for the Proteas, however.

Goal attack Nichole Taljaard earned her second Most Valuable Player award of the tournament. It was her shot, with three seconds left in the match, that drew the scores level. Taljaard had an outstanding match, occupying the space in the goal circle well with her ability to shoot from further away a distinct advantage. She also remained calm under the massive pressure of facing the reigning world champions.  

South Africa put in a huge defensive effort in the first half of the match egged on by the deafening shouts of “defence, defence” by the South African spectators in the stands. Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua started ringing in the changes with the game a tightly contested affair. Jane Watson came on in the place of Kelly Jury at goalkeeper in an attempt to stop the ball from moving into the South African goal circle. South African-born Karin Burger was moved from wing attack to goal defence to cover Taljaard. For South Africa, Elmeré van der Berg replaced Venter under the pole.  

New Zealand had edged 26-21 ahead by half-time.  

Khanyisa Chawane took over from Bongi Msomi at centre at the start of the third quarter, a period of play where South Africa traditionally lost games they should’ve won. In their game against Jamaica, the Proteas scored only three goals in the third quarter, and then outscored the Sunshine Girls 20-15 in the last 15 minutes of the match. This time around however, the Proteas produced an outstanding performance in the third period, winning it 13-12 to only be four goals adrift. 

The final 15 minutes of the thrilling match saw the Proteas throw everything at the Silver Ferns. Defenders Phumza Maweni and Karla Pretorius made several brilliant steels on the one end while Van der Berg and Taljaard kept the scoreboard ticking at the other. Nicola Smith then joined the fray. 

With four minutes left on the clock, South Africa needed three goals to pull off something special and the atmosphere at the CTICC reached fever pitch. The ball was fed to Taljaard and she made sure to sink what must probably be the most important goal of her career.

JAMAICA 89 - 26 TRINIDAD & TOBAGO

Medal hopefuls Jamaica took on Caribbean rivals Trinidad and Tobago for the 11th time at a Netball World Cup in Cape Town on Wednesday, the Sunshine Girls making sure of a comfortable 89-26 victory to continue their course towards a semifinal spot – which was confirmed later in the evening when New Zealand drew with South Africa.

The World Cup head-to-head count between the nations stood at four-all with two draws since their first meeting back in 1963, but this time around it was all Jamaica. Rejuvenated after a day’s break on Tuesday, the Sunshine Girls had no trouble racing to a 14-goal lead by the first break.

Adean Thomas was impressive at wing attack while Shanice Beckford was also working hard at goal attack – putting up just one less shot than goal shooter Romelda Aiken-George in the first half. That saw the Sunshine Girls extending their lead to 34 goals by half-time. Their defence also stood strong, as the Calypso Girls’ error count mounted, conceding 29 turnovers in the first half. By the end of the half, they had added just four goals to their total.

There were plenty of changes for Jamaica in the third quarter including Jhaniele Fowler coming on at goal shooter and Rebekah Robinson at goal attack. While the dynamic between the two was different to that between Aiken-George and Beckford, it was no less effective as the Jamaicans continued to put even more distance between themselves and the opposition, finishing the third quarter 50 goals up.

It was all change again in the fourth quarter as coach Connie Francis continued to rotate players ahead of the Jamaicans’ showdown against New Zealand on Thursday. But the Sunshine Girls maintained the intensity to wrap up the emphatic 89-26 win, with centre Nicole Dixon-Rochester named as Most Valuable Player on the day she played her 50th cap for Jamaica.

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