Birmingham Commonwealth Games: Silver Ferns fall to England, lock in unexpected netball semi-final against Jamaica

New Zealand have booked a surprise Commonwealth Games netball semi-final against Jamaica, after the 'Sunshine Girls' upset world No.1 Australia in the final games of pool play at Birmingham.

The Silver Ferns had already assured themselves of a spot in the final four, with just the crossovers to be determined, and finished second in their pool with a 54-44 loss to reigning gold medallists England, spurred on by a rowdy home crowd at the NEC Arena.

But the result took on a degree of double jeopardy, after Jamaica stunned the Diamonds, leaving the Kiwis with possibly the better of the two draws.

Jamaica dance to celebrate their win over Australia
Jamaica dance to celebrate their win over Australia. Photo credit: Getty

England started stronger and quickly opened a 15-8 lead after the first quarter, but Ferns coach Dame Noeline Taurua - as she has all tournament - rang the changes, introducing Te Paea Selby-Rickit at goal attack and Kate Heffernan at wing defence to stem the flow of goals.

New Zealand actually won the second quarter 16-10 and drew level at 25-25 soon after halftime, before conceding the next five goals to gift back momentum to the Roses. They never recovered and although they managed to close within three goals in the final quarter, another five-goal burst put England double figures clear at the end.

Grace Nweke shot 23/29 and Selby-Rickit leant valuable shooting support with a perfect 13/13, but England dominated the penalty count and attempted 10 more shots on goal.

"That was definitely a step up from our other pool games, but obviously we were expecting that," admitted captain Gina Crampton. "They're a quality side.

"I think we matched up to it in glimpses, but just fell away in parts that lost us the game."

While Jamaica present probably the more favourable semi-final match-up, the Ferns camp is refusing to celebrate, knowing the unpredictable Caribbean flair poses a viable threat, as shown against Australia.

"Massive win," said Crampton. "I think it's the first time they've beaten Australia, so ups to them.

"They're a massive challenge for us, but it's what we're here for."

New Zealand last faced Jamaica in the 2020 Northern Quad Series, coming away with victories by 26 and 11 goals, but they lost the bronze-medal game to them at Gold Coast 2018 and the Taini Jamison home series in the build-up to those Games.

On a day that added previous few medals to the NZ tally - just road cyclist Georgia Williams' time trial bronze - several other teams manoeuvred themselves into playoff reckoning.

  • Unlike the Silver Ferns, the White Ferns cricketers were unable to avoid the looming spectre of Australia, turning in a dismal performance in their seven-wicket pool loss to England. New Zealand mustered just 71/9 from their 20 overs and the English needed less than 12 overs to match them.
  • Black Sticks men fell out of medal contention, when they lost 4-3 to South Africa, needing victory to advance to semi-finals. They now face Wales in the playoff for fifth.
  • At the bowls, the women's triple of Val Smith, Tayla Bruce and Nicole Toomey overcame Australia 14-10 in the quarter-finals and will now face Malaysia for a spot in the final. This trio have already taken bronze medals at Birmingham, as the nucleus of the four. 
White Ferns reflect on their heavy defeat to England
White Ferns reflect on their heavy defeat to England. Photo credit: Photosport
  • While they were idle today, the women's pair of Katelyn Inch and Selina Goddard are unbeaten through pool play, and will face Wales in the quarter-finals on Friday night. Goddard was the fourth member of the bronze-medal four.
  • Despite losing what seemed like a sudden-death match to Scotland, the NZ men's four of Andrew Kelly, Ali Forsyth, Tony Grantham and Mike Galloway have also progressed to quarter-finals, after South Africa beat Jersey to set up a threeway tie for second in the pool. The Kiwis enjoyed a superior plus-five countback differential and now face Wales in the final eight.
  • Fresh from her singles disappointment, squash ace Joelle King has teamed with men's gold medallist Paul Coll to reach the mixed doubles quarter-finals, while advancing to the same stage of the women's doubles with Amanda Landers-Murphy.  
  • Both the men's and women's beach volleyball teams will contest quarter-finals against Rwanda and England respectively on Friday.   

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