Australia’s Diamonds closed out their successful 2015 season by retaining the Constellation Cup, to add to the Netball World Cup secured earlier this year, by ensuring that the New Zealand could not overtake them on goal difference in the fourth test. But world number two New Zealand’s resurgence, which saw them take the final two games of the trans-Tasman competition will give Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander something to think about in the closed season.
The Silver Ferns were determined to give coach Waimarama Taumaunu a send off to remember after losing the first two games of the series, and they duly delivered, with a 50-47 win in Melbourne, before putting in a magnificent all-court performance to take the final test of the series in Perth, 58-47. Veteran shooter Jodi Brown, who announced her retirement from international netball at the conclusion of the game, was in superb form throughout, working the angles with shooting partner Bailey Mes and well served by disciplined circle-edge feeding from Laura Langman and Grace Rasmussen. Despite the best efforts of Australian captain Laura Geitz and the vociferous Sharni Layton, the Diamonds midcourt lacked fluency throughout. Coach Lisa Alexander may need to seek another option in place of the retired Kim Green, after both Paige Hadley and Gretel Tippet (moved across from the circle to an unfamiliar WA position) struggled to make headway against a stifling Kiwi defence.
Meanwhile, Singapore’s netballers – led by former Kiwi coach Ruth Aiken – have arrived in Botswana for a week-long training tour. The visit, which will include practice matches as well as training sessions, is intended to get the Singapore squad match fit before its upcoming match schedule, which includes the tenth anniversary staging of the Nations Cup. This will take place from 13-19 December in Singapore, where the host nation will face Botswana, Chinese Taipei, Northern Ireland, Namibia and Papua New Guinea: tickets are now on sale for all matches. http://www.apactix.com/events/detail/mission-foods-nations-cup-2015
The Scottish Thistles’ on-court performances, which have seen the side reach the world’s top ten earlier this month, have been rewarded with a national sports prize nomination. The Thistles have been shortlisted in the Scottish Women in Sport Awards for the 2015 Team Performance Category: check out all the nominations here http://www.scottishwomeninsport.co.uk/?page_id=3918 and keep your fingers crossed for them when the winners are announced, on 20 November.
England international Eboni Beckford-Chambers has been named as captain for TeamBath in the 2016 of the English Netball Superleague. Beckford-Chambers, who spent the past four years playing in the ANZ Championship, will return to the franchise where she started her international career for the new season’s competition, and will be supported by former England player Asha Francis as vice captain. Meanwhile Jamaican stars Shanice Beckford and Nicole Dixon have arrived in the north east of England to join Team Northumbria and are now settling into their new (slightly colder) environment ahead of the UK Superleague pre-season.
Finally, congratulations to English umpire Gary Burgess, who has been named Performance Official of the Year at the Sports Officials UK Awards this week. Burgess, who umpired the final of the Netball World Cup in Sydney, as well as the Commonwealth Games final in Glasgow, was named ahead of officials from sporting disciplines including athletics and baseball for his consistently high performance levels.