Netball World Cup: Guthrie's England steam past South Africa
CAPTAIN Serena Guthrie and England swatted aside title hopefuls South Africa at the Netball World Cup to book a semi-final date with New Zealand.
The Roses maintained their perfect record in Liverpool with a 58-47 demolition in the final game in Group G – a result which keeps them away from defending champions Australia in the last-four. They will meet the Silver Ferns at 3pm on Saturday in a bid to reach their first-ever final.
Before Thursday’s South African tussle tournament officials publically earmarked the 2019 edition the largest World Cup in history. Over 103,000 tickets sold in total across the nine days – and there are just as many people supporting the home captain from across the Channel, each and every step of the way.
Jersey flags were among those being flown for Caesarean star Guthrie at the M&S Bank Arena but the backing for the Islander did not stop there. The cheers for the player introductions were deafening … the screams every time England scored only compounded the auditory damage.
After guiding her side to victory over Uganda on Wednesday night Proteas shooter Lenize Potgieter stressed the need for patience and consistency. Two key characteristics required at any level of netball, regardless of age or experience, but in order to succeed on a stage such as this – the greatest of them all – no side can afford a duff note.
In truth, South Africa did little wrong. England were just too strong.
The Roses grabbed the tie by the scruff of the neck in the opening stages and the produce of their efforts continued to gain greater weight. A two-goal lead became four without too much trouble and they were then aided by the loss of Guthrie’s immediate rival Bongiwe Msomi. The centre was withdrawn with seven minutes played, following a heavy fall, and while replacement Erin Burger is clearly no slouch the swap did the Africans’ hopes of finding a rhythm little good.
Jo Harten ended the first quarter with a ridiculous long-ranger on the swivel – beating the buzzer by an inch and sending the hosts 19-11 up – and the girls in green were sent into a deeper daze as half-time approached.
Guthrie was vocal in defence and attack and her physical influence was just as telling. The ball breezed through mid-court when in home hands and before half-time the game – one that had, for so long, been dubbed as a thriller – was in danger of turning into a rout.
England were well clear but Guthrie was still not happy. She urged her team-mates, her friends, to keep pressing.
An 11-goal lead at half-time would never have been predicted against a side who toppled Tracey Neville’s ladies in the Quad Series earlier this year, but that is exactly what England held.
Guthrie seemed to spend more time on the floor than on her feet in Q3 as the tie added itself to a long list of bruisers in this ‘non-contact’ sport, although there was no dip in form.
The margin was extended by two at 43-30 as Harten continued to dominate and with the semi-final against Group F runners-up New Zealand all-but secured Neville rang the changes in the final period.
Guthrie departed with five minutes to go and her colleagues crossed the line.
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