England recovered from a pair of defeats on day two to take third place at the 2014 Fast5 Netball World Series with a thrilling one goal win over Jamaica. Having started the day with ambitions of making the final, the Fives were dealt a cruel blow as an opening loss to the Sunshine Girls by a single goal effectively ended their title hopes.
Instead it was the host nation New Zealand who went on to pick up the trophy for a record fifth occasion after securing a 35-31 victory over the Australia Flyers in front of a delighted home crowd in Auckland. Another large crowd swelled the Vector Arena in Auckland as the final day of action got underway and the opening match between England and Jamaica did not fail to disappoint.
With both sides on six points it was a vital clash and the tense opening half gave a nod to the importance of the game. The Caribbean side took the first two quarters by a single goal to create a slender gap heading into the Fives’ Powerplay. A fabulous Super Shot from Jo Harten gave England the initiative although five misses in the third quarter would come back to haunt them. The advantage was eight but now the Sunshine Girls had the benefit of the Powerplay. Ama Agbeze and Eboni Beckford-Chambers were doing a wonderful job restricting the Jamaican scoring but the double scoring proved crucial as England slipped to a narrow 27-26 defeat.
It was still mathematically possible for England to qualify for the Grand Final, but they would need a significant victory over the Australia Flyers to do so. The Flyers were fighting for their place in the final too when the two sides met and they got off to a superb start, leading 11-5 after the opening six minutes.
England hit back in the second quarter and punished some Australian profligacy in front of goal to reduce the gap to two, 14-11 at the interval. Once again the Powerplay quarters would be pivotal. The Fives had their chance in Q3 but some staunch Australia defence meant that the England lead was just two, heading into the final quarter with the Flyers on their Powerplay. England had to attempt long range Super Shots to stay in touch and with a trio of these failing to drop, a 31-24 loss condemned the Fives to the third place play-off.
A short break allowed the team to re-group and come back fighting in their final match of the competition. It was to be a repeat of the earlier game against Jamaica.
The two sides again remained close up to half-time, the Fives taking a one goal lead into the Powerplay quarters in the second half. The Caribbean side used theirs first and only an excellent last minute Super Short from Thristina Harwood pulled them five goals clear. Kadeen Corbin and Harten quickly pushed England into a lead and although another long ranger from Harwood threatened to spoil the good finish, the Fives were able to hold on and exact revenge with a 31-30 victory to take third place.
Elsewhere, South Africa and Malawi met in a battle of the basement sides. The SPAR Fast5 South Africans collecting a 33-30 win in the group stage before repeating the dose to the Queens with a 30-22 success in the Fifth place play-off.
The Fast5 Ferns continued their imperious form to end the group stage with five wins from five before taking out the final to cement their place as the best Fast5 nation in the world.
2014 Fast5 Netball World Series – final standings
Winners – New Zealand
Runners-up – Australia
3rd place – England
4th place – Jamaica
5th place – South Africa
6th place – Malawi
Highlights from England’s day two matches and the Grand Final will be available on the Sky Sports website later today.