At 4:59pm on Thursday, June 2, Super Netball announced that they had sold the 2022 grand final to Perth with just two rounds of…
Day 8 brought another day of sickeningly glorious Sydney weather, so what could be better than to spend a day indoors, eating hot chips, surrounded by the soulless hellhole of the Olympic Park precinct?
For some inexplicable reason, the best match of the day was scheduled first up, meaning everyone needed to drag themselves out to the arena early – the upside being it was a great excuse for people to skip out on work.
Crowd favourites Malawi were taking on the might of Jamaica, with the winner to get a place in the semis. With the semis at all major tournaments consistently made up of the Big Four, it was no surprise that the spectators continued to back the Malawi Queens.
If the full support of the crowd seems a little rough on Jamaica, go back and re-watch the 2003 World Cup final and notice the entire Jamaican crowd cheering on New Zealand and you’ll feel a lot better about it.
Malawi stumbled off to a slow start and it seemed that perhaps having a 56cm goal keeper play against a 450cm goal shooter wasn’t the ground-breakingly awesome strategy it was cracked up to be. So they quickly dumped it and tried someone a bit taller.
By halftime it looked like it was all over for the plucky Africans, down by nine and with Jamaica looking strong. Although superstar Romelda Aiken was essentially playing on one leg (side note: perhaps this is how she should always have to play, just to keep things fair for the mere mortals she’s up against) the coaching staff didn’t dare rest her, but opted to take goal attack Shanice Beckford to the bench instead.
This turned out to be a huge mistake and once again this tournament, Jamaica insisted they be granted a ‘do over’, only to be told again that such a thing does not exist within the rules of netball. Malawi outscored the Sunshine Girls 17-10 for the quarter, going into the final quarter trailing by just two goals.
The fourth quarter was as tense as a skipping rope that’s being used for a spot of limbo, with the teams going goal for goal until the very end. To the devastation of the crowd and the Queens themselves, Jamaica held on to win 63-62, denying Malawi their first ever semi-finals appearance.
We hold out hope for the organisers of the 2018 Commonwealth Games to be better at scheduling, and give Malawi a shot at knocking England out instead.
Following that exciting game, Zambia had their first win of the tournament over Singapore and England continued on their form slump, only beating South Africa by 16 goals. New Zealand, on the other hand, look to be taking much greater momentum into their semi-final tomorrow, demolishing Uganda 76-33.
At last, they released the Diamonds, to play Wales, and the crowd rejoiced. Angry at having to spend an entire day not playing netball, Sharni Layton was breathing fire all over the place and had to be restrained by several support staff.
Teammate Caitlin Bassett had clearly put the rest day to better use, appearing several shades darker than she had at the previous game, so either she got a lot more out of the winter sun than everyone else in this city, or there was some kind of witchcraft involved. Those are the only possible alternatives at play.
The game was a tight affair to begin with, getting to 8-7 to Australia before the Diamonds looked to their bench and went, “Oh, you want us to play netball? Well why didn’t you say so?” And off they went, skipping off to a 20-8 lead by quarter time.
The Diamonds continued on their merry way, doing as they pleased and even the inclusion of the 198cm Georgia Rowe into goal shooter from the Welsh bench seemed to only spur the Australians on further.
Once again, Layton was ruthless and merciless in goal keeper, forcing captain Laura Geitz to activate her ‘must participate in every game of the tournament’ clause a little early, and forcibly rip the bibs off Layton at halftime. Fearful of the wrath of the Sharni Army, Rebecca Bulley voluntarily handed over the goal defence bibs and hid under the bench for the remainder of the match.
Geitz and Layton ensured the Welsh will be having nightmares about extremely fit women wearing green and gold for the term of their natural lives, stopping at nothing to destroy the spirit of the pleasant women from leek country.
In the final quarter, coach Lisa Alexander decided that the Welsh weren’t suitably demolished just yet, so she brought on her A-Team shooting combination of Bassett and Natalie Medhurst. Being teammates at the West Coast Fever, these two know each others’ games fairly well, but playing the entire quarter blindfolded was probably taking it a step too far.
Medhurst delighted the crowd with her homage to Malawi goal shooter Mwai Kumwenda by passing the ball off the post and regathering to shoot a goal, leading Alexander to consider whether she could give Bassett a bit more rest and let Medhurst play both shooting roles for the rest of the game.
Australia trampled over the broken bodies of the Welsh, winning 89-24 and feeling quite fresh in the process.
Now we must wait for Day 9 and the excitement of the semi-finals, which brings with it many questions, such as: how big a favour have Malawi done for Australia by running Jamaica into the ground? How many goals will New Zealand beat England by? Will it be enough to completely crush their self-belief so they lose the bronze medal play-off the next day as well? How many idiots in the crowd will be wearing Souths jerseys? And just how many more times will we have to hear ‘Shake it off’ by Taylor Swift?
The answer to these and many more will be found in my Day 9 recap, so stay tuned to The Roar.