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Netball World Cup Day 2: Big wins, little wins and foolproof algorithms

Australia and New Zealand: Netball's two heavyweights clashed have clashed in the Constellation Cup. (Photo: SNPA / Ross Setford)
Expert
8th August, 2015
7

Day Two dawned and, after holding all 16 teams and the crowd hostage until the wee hours last night, the organisers showed a little mercy and started the first game at 11:20am.

World number seven Fiji Pearls appeared to think they’d have an easy run against the 14th-ranked Uganda She-Cranes, but it wasn’t to be. The Ugandans romped it in 61-40 and appear to have their sights set on their more highly fancied African rivals, Malawi and South Africa.

New Zealand took on Trinidad and Tobago, defeating them 74-38, which means Australia will beat the Silver Ferns by five tomorrow. Trust me, this kind of thing is foolproof in predicting results.

Meanwhile, Scotland finally got over the shock of playing in the midst of such a hot summer – and the further shock of being told it was actually winter – to beat Samoa and record their first win of the tournament.

South Africa also had their first win, defeating Singapore 69-21 and Malawi ripped the hearts out of Sri Lanka, took a bite out of them, stomped on them and kicked them back in their faces. They also beat them in a game of netball 101-18.

Our Diamonds came out firing in their match against Barbados, with the ruthless efficiency of a team of evil robots with really great hair.

Coach Lisa Alexander still refused to reveal her top team, even when asked really nicely by Silver Ferns coach Wai Taumaunu. Once again, she used all 12 players and mixed the shooting combinations up, pairing Caitlin Thwaites with Erin Bell in the first half and Caitlin Bassett with West Coast Fever teammate Natalie Medhurst in the second half.

Ultimate competitor Sharni Layton was in fine form, playing both Goal Defence and her preferred position of Goal Keeper. Though one gets the feeling watching her, that her preferred position is simply “on the court” and she wakes screaming in the night, haunted by dreams of having to sit on a bench while a netball game is taking place.

At the other end of the court, Bassett and Medhurst were being pummelled by the Barbados defenders and bestowing the kind of bemused looks upon them that you might see from a professional boxer being booped on the nose by a small baby. It’s kind of annoying, but you don’t have the heart to be too upset about it.

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Medhurst also dabbled in some match hexing, using her pixie magic to convince a ball that hit the underside of the ring to defy gravity and roll up and into the goal. Apparently it still counted as a goal, due to it being good magic and not evil, so the score final stood at 83-16.

Day Two also saw the first serious match up of the tournament, with traditional rivals England and Jamaica going head-to-head (Side note: one of the really great things about netball is the ability to say things like “traditional rivals England and Jamaica” and not even be joking).

Both teams started with their strongest line-ups and appeared to be going hard for the win. Jamaica got on top early and forced England to make changes – unfortunately not by ripping their bibs off and switching them around, which would have been much funnier, but through the traditional means of playing well. Boring, but effective.

After half a game, Jamaica suddenly decided they didn’t care much for winning and sent some of their own players to the bench, just for good measure. After a quarter of that, they realised they actually did care for winning and approached the umpires to ask if they could have the previous quarter stricken from the record and have a do-over. It was ruled that they could not, due to some stupid thing called “the rulebook”.

The final quarter swung back and forth, but it was England who managed to take the win in the end, 54-50. Unfortunately a lack of foresight from competition organisers meant that the crowd was not supplied with blindfolds and had to endure England winning yet another bloody thing.

Wheels are in motion to make it illegal for England to win in any sport for the rest of time, but there’s bound to be too much red tape to get it passed in time for their next match, which is a shame.

So, on we roll to Day Three and Australia taking on New Zealand for a basically meaningless match to sell tickets. Who will take the honours of going into one pool instead of the other for the next round of competition? And who will suffer the humiliation of going into another, almost identical pool with no real consequences to their chances of taking out the tournament? Only time will tell. Or that foolproof algorithm I gave you earlier.

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