England and New Zealand faced each other in the Netball World Cup semifinal in Cape Town, marking the fifth time they met at this stage of the competition. Historically, the Silver Ferns had the upper hand, winning all four of their previous encounters dating back to 1991. However, in a fiercely contested match, the Roses from England defied the odds and emerged victorious with a score of 46-40, creating a historic moment for English netball.
The match began nervously for both teams, resulting in possession changing hands frequently. Defensive pressure from both sides led to a low-scoring first quarter, with both teams tied at 9-9. England struggled in the shooting circle, while New Zealand was shooting at a perfect 100 percent.
During the second quarter, England’s defense forced errors from the Silver Ferns, allowing them to gain a slight lead. However, New Zealand fought back in the final minutes of the period, bringing the score to a tie again at 20-20.
In the third quarter, England made a lineup change, bringing Jade Clarke on as center, and later, Fran Williams replaced Layla Guscoth at goal defense. New Zealand briefly took the lead in the third quarter, but the teams remained even at 32-32 going into the final break.
Before the last quarter, England coach Jess Thirlby inspired her team, and they came out with increased confidence. With history within reach, Williams made a game-changing intercept, giving England the edge. The Roses surged ahead, scoring six consecutive goals to secure their 46-40 victory, making them the first team other than New Zealand, Australia, or South Africa to reach the gold-medal match in Netball World Cup history.
Coach Thirlby expressed her pride in her team’s performance and their ability to manage momentum against top teams. “I think to win a game in that way is the most satisfying feeling… our capability on the court from a technical and tactical point of view, I’ve never questioned that or doubted it. I have 100 per cent belief in it. I think the journey we’ve been on is how to manage ourselves through momentum in games against the best teams playing at their best,” she said.
Silver Ferns captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio acknowledged her team’s devastation at not defending their title and expressed their determination to regroup and compete in the bronze medal match. “It’s really devastating for us. We’re feeling very heartbroken as well, especially knowing that we were in it for the three quarters and I think we really stood up,” she said. “It’s kind of been a bit of the story for us – that fourth quarter but I thought we had our chances as well in that. I guess it’s the way it goes but we have to get up again tomorrow [for the bronze medal match] and find a way. We’ve got a lot of heart left and we’re not done yet – we’ve got another game.”
Q2: 20-20 (11-11)
Q3: 32-32 (12-12)
Q4: 46-40 (14-8)
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Fran Williams (England)