As always, netball delivered lots of memorable moments during the Birmingham Commonwealth Games. For Siren, Elly McNerney takes a look back at her top five.
Diamonds bring home the gold
Coming in at number one was Australia bringing home the gold medal with a win over a strong Jamaican side. The Diamonds defeated Jamaica by four goals to claim their first win at a major tournament since the 2015 World Cup in Sydney.
Coming off the bench, Sarah Klau and Cara Koenen made a huge impact with Klau nullifying the impact of Jamaican captain Jhaniele Fowler. Koenen combined nicely with Gretel Bueta both in the circle or rotating in drawing Shamera Sterling out of the circle.
While it took her a while to get into the game, Bueta was a focal point in the attack end for the Diamonds. and ended the game with a 100 percent shooting accuracy.
Kate Moloney stood up in the dying minutes of the match, coming away with some important gains that were able to keep the gold medal just out of reach of Jamaica while combining nicely throughout the game with Melbourne Vixens teammate Liz Watson, especially in that second phase.
When the siren sounded at the stadium it was pure joy not only in the stadium but in the living rooms of Australians around the country. The Diamonds gold medal win also made history, being the 1000th gold medal that Australia has won in the history of the Commonwealth Games.
The rise of Jamaica
After a history-making tournament, winning the country’s first silver medal for netball, it’s safe to say that after the Commonwealth Games, Jamaica will no longer be underestimated.
A win against Australia in the final pool game really set Jamaica up for a strong finish to the series. After being down by six goals going into the final quarter, their formidable defensive end set up the Sunshine Girls to defeat Australia for the first time at a Commonwealth Games.
The Sunshine Girls went on to defeat New Zealand by 17 goals to set themselves a date with Australia in what was Jamaica’s first gold medal match appearance in the country’s history
Led by captain Jhaniele Fowler, there weren’t many defenders that were able to put a stop to the world’s best goal shooter. Fowler finished the competition on 273 goals, shooting at an accuracy of 97 percent.
Then the defensive trio of Latayna Wilson, Shamera Sterling in the circle and Jodi-Ann Ward out the front in wing defence won plenty of the ball back for the Jamaican side, with Ward one of the best players across the tournament.
As a team, Jamaica finished the season leading intercepts, averaging 8.9 per game, while Wilson topped the deflections, averaging 5.4 per game. Sterling topped the intercepts averaging 3.9 per game.
Gretel Bueta brilliance
Gretel Bueta was formidable in the goal circle for the Diamonds right across the competition. Spending the tournament rotating between goal attack and goal shooter, Bueta quickly became a focal point of the Diamonds’ attack end.
Bueta used her dynamic movements to her advantage, whether it was her signature lay up style shots and passes or her ability to create space in the goal circle. She created a dangerous partnership with Diamonds vice captain Steph Wood with the pair picking up where they left off from the Quad Series earlier in the year.
When going to post, Bueta was extremely accurate, ending several games with a 100 percent shooting accuracy, including the all important gold medal match. Overall Bueta scored 253 goals across the tournament while having a shooting accuracy of 96 percent.
Netball says goodbye to two superstars
The bronze medal match between New Zealand and England marked the final match for two legends of international netball. Stacey Francis-Bayman and Eboni Usoro-Brown called time on their netball careers after 73 and 116 caps respectively.
While the pair weren’t about to get onto the podium after England was defeated by New Zealand, they’ll be forever etched into the history books of England netball.
Francis-Bayman got the start in goal defence in her final game of netball while there was a touching moment in the dying minutes of the match with Usoro-Brown being brought into the game for Geva Mentor.
Both have had successful careers on the international stage with Stacey Francis-Bayman winning bronze at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and the 2011 and 2015 Netball World Cups. While Usoro- Brown was a part of the history-making gold medal win for the Roses back in 2018 on the Gold Coast as well as the three bronze medals.
When it was announced back in 2020 that Stacey Marinkovich would take over as the coach of the Australian Diamonds, taking over from Lisa Alexander, the appointment came as a shock to some
But after the Gold Medal match, she’d silenced all the haters. In Marinkovich’s debut at the Commonwealth Games she was calm under pressure and was able to make the right changes at the right time, especially in that final game against Jamaica.
The change to bring Bueta out into goal attack and bringing Cara Koenen on into goal shooter changed the trajectory of the game. The Jamaican defenders had started to get on top of the Australian goal circle but the change allowed for the goal circle to give Sterling and Wilson something to think about.