The Commonwealth Games, for two weeks, once again unified New Zealand in support of the quest for another sporting triumph and they got what they wanted.

Forty-six medals - 15 gold, 16 silver and 15 bronze - will be brought back to New Zealand shores in what was a good effort.

The low medal returns from swimming, netball and the track was disappointing but offset by brilliance in hockey, sevens and cycling.

Read more: Commonwealth Games: Proud Northland hockey mum could barely watch daughter's match winning penalty strike
Stacey Michelsen: Gold medal still hasn't really sunk in
A Northlander's guide to the Commonwealth Games

Best Kiwi moment: Black Sticks win gold after penalty shootout


From a fortnight of brilliant sporting moments none touched the relief and joy of seeing New Zealand beat Australia 4-1 in the gold medal final.

New Zealand, once into a penalty shootout with England, weren't expected to progress to the showcase due to a horrendous record in those moments at major tournaments.

But under Stacey Michelsen's leadership a different narrative was to be had as she polished off a fine goal before leading a classy display in the final.

Michelsen was a deserving flag bearer - even if we didn't get to see her lead her compatriots into the building during the closing ceremony.

Portia Woodman and the New Zealand sevens' victories also rate highly as well as Sam Webster's efforts on the bike and Joelle King's squash masterclasses.

Biggest disappointment: New Zealand netball's steep decline

The humbling loss to Malawi. The drubbing at the hands of Australia. A third loss in 2018 to Jamaica. New Zealand's netball campaign fell to the lowest of lows after they couldn't clinch a medal for the first time.

The shooting was sub-par while the defence and passing left a lot to be desired as they fell to four defeats, prompting some tough questions of leadership (credit to Jenny-May Clarkson and Peter Williams for asking those questions in the immediate aftermath).

There will be a full inquiry. Heads will roll. Coach Janine Southby, like David Kidwell following the Rugby League World Cup, didn't immediately resign but there's no way she will remain in her current role.

Captain Katrina Grant will have won more than a few supporters as she admirably answered the critics following their losses.

Worst moment: Sam Gaze's unsportsmanlike conduct following gold medal

Surely if you've won a gold medal following what probably should have been a devastating puncture on the final lap, you'd be in a jovial mood.

With Sam Gaze that wasn't the case, lambasting fellow Kiwi Anton Cooper for not stopping after his mechanical failure.

His comeback could have been the story of the games for New Zealand but instead we saw a level of ungraciousness in victory rarely seen from a Kiwi athlete.

An apology showed a level of contrition but there's a long road back now for Gaze in the public sphere.

Budding star to watch: Olivia McTaggart/Eliza McCartney

Olivia McTaggart, along with Eliza McCartney, lead the charge as pole vault continues its rise as a major sport in New Zealand's eyes. Photo / Photosport
Olivia McTaggart, along with Eliza McCartney, lead the charge as pole vault continues its rise as a major sport in New Zealand's eyes. Photo / Photosport

Forget the woeful coverage of the pole vault at the Commonwealth Games (commentary was sub-par and the decision to switch to the sevens despite it being shown on a different channel was confusing and disappointing), it is fast becoming the darling sport for New Zealand.

In Eliza McCartney and Olivia McTaggart, New Zealand has two rising stars that will compete for years to come in a highly skilled and exciting discipline.

McCartney is 21, McTaggart only 18. Both compete with smiles on their faces and enthusiasm that can rub off on even the most stringent of armchair critics.

McCartney grabbed the silver this time but don't be surprised if in four years we have a Kiwi one-two punch.

What should stay/what needs to go: Mixed Team Triathlon/Closing Ceremony changes

The mixed team triathlon was an enthralling watch. If you missed it, four competitors each did sprint triathlons one after the other.

New Zealand's team of Andrea Hewitt, Taylor Reid, Nicole van der Kaay and Ryan Sissons snatched bronze as the shorter track proved both brutal and a fantastic spectacle.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the closing ceremony was a debacle that even the athletes it was meant to be celebrating left early.

No one got to see Stacey Michelsen lead New Zealand's contingent in after a fine Games. It's a tradition that shouldn't have changed at all.

If Birmingham's edition in 2022 follows the tone set by their addition to the ceremony we could be in for a dull affair in four years' time.

However, given the breadth of talent in New Zealand, that shouldn't be the case on the field at least.