Birmingham Commonwealth Games: White Ferns, volleyballers book bronze-medal matches, as Kiwis fall short

Birmingham Commonwealth Games: White Ferns, volleyballers book bronze-medal matches, as Kiwis fall short

New Zealand have continued their agonising run of losing Commonwealth Games semi-finals, with our cricketers and beach volleyballers the latest consigned to bronze-medal matches at Birmingham.

Facing world champions Australia in the inaugural T20 tournament, the White Ferns took the contest to the final over, but found their batting effort of 144/7 probably 20 runs short of really pressuring their rivals.

After losing opening partner Suzie Bates for a golden duck in the first over, captain Sophie Devine led the scoring with 53 off 48 balls, with all-rounder Melie Kerr contributing 40 off 36, but New Zealand found partnerships difficult to form when those two departed.

Alice Zeimann reacts during the semi-final loss to Canada
Alice Zeimann reacts during the semi-final loss to Canada. Photo credit: Photosport

Recalled speedster Lea Tahuhu starred with the ball, taking 3/20 off her four overs, but the Kiwis squandered five wicket chances in the field to take the pressure off the Australian chase.

The Ferns will now face England for the bronze medal, after the hosts were upset by India in the other semi. In pool play, the English overwhelmed New Zealand by seven wickets, after restricting them to 71/9 in their 20 overs.

"We've got a pretty quick turnaround now," said Bates. "We're proud of how we played against a world class Australian team, but we've got to start believing how good we are and that we can beat them.

"We've got to learn how to win those close matches. A couple of catches not sticking today, but we gave it our all, and we know we've got to get up and do the same thing tomorrow."

In many ways, the cricketers' performance was indicative of New Zealand's fortunes in team events at these Games, with beach volleyballers Alice Zeimann and Shaunna Polley also consigned to a third-place playoff, after falling to Canada in their semi.

They became the latest of a string of 'close but no cigar' showings.

  • Squash champion Joelle King could not defend her singles crown from the Gold Coast, losing her semi-final and also the bronze-medal game. King and Paul Coll have successfully negotiated their mixed doubles semi, but she and Amanda Landers-Murphy still face a final-four showdown, if they are to retain their women's doubles gold 
  • Black Sticks women also lost their hockey title, when they lost a penalty shootout to England in the semis. Ironically, they beat the English in identical fashion at the same stage four years ago, before toppling Australia in the final - they now face India for bronze
  • Not one, not two, but three women's bowls combinations bowed out of gold-medal contention at the semi-final stage, but rebounded for bronze, with the pair of Katelyn Inch and Selina Goddard the most recent to find the lowest step of the podium
  • Judokas Moira de Villiers and Sydnee Andrews rallied from semi-final losses to win bronze-medal matches, as did wrestler Tayla Ford. Boxer Leuila Mau'u barely fired a shot in his semi-final defeat, but is guaranteed a bronze without having to fight again

Zeimann and Polley seemed well on track for higher honours, when they won a thrilling 31-29 opening set against Canada, quickly fell behind to lose the second 21-14, but held matchball at 16-15 in the third and could not convert. Their rivals had four chances to win and finally prevailed, with New Zealand facing Vanuatu for bronze. 

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