New Zealand’s netballers completed a disappointing Commonwealth Games campaign when they lost 60-55 to Jamaica today in the bronze medal match.
The result means that New Zealand, the 2002 and 2010 Games gold medallists, lost four times on the Gold Coast and miss out on a medal for the first time in Games history.
With shooter Te Paea Selby-Rickit scratched before the start of the match after being laid low by a virus, New Zealand’s resources were stretched.
Bailey Mes got the start at goal shoot along with Shannon Francois at centre and Samantha Sinclair, wing defence.
After an even start, the plan of getting as much ball into the hands of 1.96m shooter Jhaniele Fowler-Reid paid dividends for Jamaica, who forged ahead 15-11 at quarter-time.
New Zealand captain and goal defence Katrina Grant was a busy contributor for New Zealand and shooter Maria Folau continued her impressive form and high work rate in the tournament.
In the second quarter, New Zealand lifted their defensive work and levelled the scores briefly. It was 29-27 to Jamaica at halftime.
New Zealand started the third spell with a hiss and roar, producing a flurry of turnovers to take the lead within three minutes of the restart.
Claire Kersten provided plenty of hustle to keep the pressure on but Jamaica quickly found their way back into the lead, with unobtrusive goal attack Shanice Beckford playing a prominent role. Growing in confidence, the Caribbean team produced a strong late burst to hit the last break with a 46-39 lead.
In the final quarter New Zealand played at a frenetic pace, but Jamaica, who beat New Zealand twice in tests last month, kept their composure and the bronze medal was theirs.
New Zealand coach Janine Southby was clearly stunned afterwards.
She said that from a New Zealand perspective, the tournament was “not the happiest, not the best”.
“The girls have stuck together to keep fighting,” she said. “Their best on a regular basis hasn't been what we wanted it to be. When we're good we're good, but we don't put that across the full 60 minutes, and that's been a challenge for a while. It’s disappointing, massive learning curve.
“There's a lot of young girls in the group - eight new girls - and that's tough in an environment like this when you're playing experienced teams, teams that have been on the rise for a while.”
She said the results had been devastating.
“These things always hurt a couple of days later too. It stings right now, but the hurt sets in and it's not nice.”
In a boilover, England beat Australia 52-51 in the gold medal match. It is the first time neither Australia nor New Zealand won a major netball event – a world championship or a Commonwealth Games, though in 1979 they shared the honour with Trinidad and Tobago. The tournament has been something of a turning point for netball in other ways too, with the re-emergence of South Africa as a force and the emergence of Malawi and Uganda as genuine threats.
Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Te Paea Selby-Rickit Shannon Francois Bailey Mes Katrina Grant Maria Folau Janine Southby Netball