Netball: Teams quickly find their courtside feet


In a stop-start, physical match, Jamaica proved too strong for the Cook Islands, taking out a scrappy match 71-29 and leaving plenty of room for improvement in cutting down the error rate.

The Cook Islanders held Jamaica to a 14-9 lead at the end of the first quarter, the long limbs of goal shoot Romelda Aiken meaning that once the ball was flying into the circle there was very little the defence of Angela Tangimetua and Darcel Daniels could do.

Jamaica really hit their straps in the second quarter, scoring 22 goals to the Cook Islands' seven for a 36-16 halftime lead.

Aiken missed only two of her 25 attempts on goal, while goal attack and captain Simone Forbes recovered from a slow start to chip in with 13 from 16.

However, coach Connie Francis will be demanding a far more cohesive effort if her team are to push New Zealand if they meet, as expected, in Friday's semifinals.

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It was height advantage across the court which enabled Fiji to cast political dramas aside by opening their campaign with a 61-32 thumping of Singapore.

The Pacific Islanders dwarfed the skilled but slight Singaporeans in every facet as they set themselves up for a pool C-defining clash with tournament third seeds Jamaica tomorrow.

That Singapore ended the game with a pair of 1.69m shooters spoke volumes for the mismatch considering Fiji goal keep and captain Mere Rabuka enjoyed a 13cm advantage over the pair.

In tandem with Australian-based goal defence Marjorie Parr for the majority of the game, the Fijians were never in danger of disappointing their boisterous support after leading 34-15 at halftime.

While Fiji's defensive combination - which saw former Silver Ferns enforcer Vilimaina Davu make a third-quarter cameo - the shooting stats also encapsulated the game with Singapore managing only 48 attempts to the winner's 71.

"We've been waiting for this, it's been a long time coming," Davu said.

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England made a forceful start with a convincing 87-34 win over Barbados.

On the back of a solid build-up to the tournament, which included a rare win over New Zealand earlier this year, England started their campaign with a strong statement.

With a handful of their best players on the bench for the first half, England were untroubled in accumulating a 38-22 halftime lead.

Mostly clean and fluid through the midcourt, England shooters Joanne Harten and Pamela Cookey proved reliable finishers, with Cookey, in particular, enjoying a lively first half.

The young and inexperienced team from the Caribbean struggled to make inroads through England's midcourt defensive screen, with their play often breaking down in this area.

* * *


The eight-goal difference at the end of the game did not show how tough this contest really was.

It was goal-for-goal in the first quarter and the intensity flowed from the first shot with several Scottish players hitting the deck as they desperately tried to hold on to a slender lead.

The teams went into the first quarter break at 12-11 to Trinidad & Tobago.

At the start of the second quarter, the Caribbean side pulled ahead and were able to maintain a narrow lead going into half-time 27-22.

In a slow-scoring third quarter Trinidad & Tobago moved ahead 37-28 before Scotland came back in a mad scramble in the final 15 minutes.

The Scots actually won the last quarter 12-10, but their efforts were to no avail in a gallant loss which thrilled supporters of both teams.

"Because of all the injuries and stoppages we lost momentum.

"We have to be more focused in the future," said Grace Parkinson-Griffith, the coach of Trinidad & Tobago.

Their captain, Rhonda John-Davis, was happy with the win, but believed there's more to come from Trinidad & Tobago, who are the only nation outside of Australia and New Zealand to win the title (1979 in a shared win with New Zealand and Australia).

* * *


South Africa took a while to hit form but emerged big winners as they started day two.

Their 67-28 triumph over Malaysia was a solid start for the Africans who finished fifth at the previous world championships in Jamaica, while Malaysia are back in the tournament after missing the 2003 event.

It took Malaysia nearly three minutes before they troubled the scorekeeper but their resolve was on display throughout the match.

Initially, South African doubled their opponents' score and kept itthat way going into half-time ahead 36-16.

The Malaysians made several substitutions in the third quarter, but in the final 15 minutes South Africa pulled away to complete the win with relative ease.

Although South Africa had elevation and experience on their side, at times they lacked a clear flow through the court, something which captain and centre Bronwyn Bock-Jonathan believed needed to be improved.

South African goal attack Christine Markgraaff put in an athletic display, while Malaysian goal shoot Aruna Santhappan was prepared to take shots from almost anywhere.


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