Australia made it back-to-back titles after delivering a clinical 35-23 win over New Zealand to clinch the 2023 FAST5 Netball World Series in Christchurch on Sunday.
Comprising six teams and 18 games over two days, a tournament full of camaraderie, intense competition and fun, Australia’s second straight World Series title drew the curtain on the international netball calendar for the year.
In a fast-paced, high octane final, Australia hit their straps from the outset with a commanding presence across all areas of the court, leaving the FAST5 Ferns chasing throughout.
With four accomplished shooters, spearheaded by Georgie Horjus dominating from the two-point zone, accompanied by non-stop defensive pressure, the Australians held the upper-hand throughout the contest.
Particularly effective were defensive duo, captain Maltida Garrett, player of the match, and Ervin O’Shannassy who effectively shut down the FAST5 Ferns ability to score extra points from the two-point zone.
The New Zealanders struggled with the pair’s long reach which nullified their scoring prowess to just two shots from range and they also had difficulty finding any consistent flow. Some brief resistance in a drawn second quarter provided hope but that proved short-lived as Australia took a stranglehold on proceedings to relegate the Fast5 Ferns to the runners-up spot.
“It was an amazing experience,” Garrett said.
“This is my first time at FAST5 and when you look out to the crowd and see all the amazing outfits, it’s such a great atmosphere. It’s such a good week with all the girls that stand along that line, and I’m looking forward to next year already.”
In an intense contest throughout, England won the battle for the bronze medal when posting a tight 30-22 win over South Africa.
Showing their improvement over the two days, the Proteas made a contest of it the whole way with the outcome remaining in the balance until the last couple of minutes.
In the battle between two of the best long-range shooters in the tournament, England’s Paige Reed just shaded her counterpart Zandre Smit in the bronze medal match with a better success rate on the day, adding the icing with a game-clinching four-pointer on the final buzzer.
Making a great start on the opening day, Jamaica could not repeat those efforts on day two, eventually finishing fifth when prevailing 36-31 in a battling win over a gallant Malawi in their final play-off match.
Respective experienced goal shoots, Jamaica’s Romelda Aiken-George, in her last FAST5 appearance, and Malawi’s Joyce Mvula were influential figures at each end of the court, both playing big minutes during the tournament.
Earlier in the day, the FAST5 Ferns and Australia cemented their places in the gold medal match with two wins apiece in their remaining round robin matches. With England suffering one round robin loss on the second day and Jamaica two, the pair dropped out of contention for the final.
The FAST5 Ferns nailed a hard-fought 41-33 win over South Africa while completing their round robin play in style with an emphatic 50-16 win over Jamaica, highlighted by three six-pointers to Tiana Metuarau. That helped the only team to crack 50 in the tournament qualify in top spot for the play-offs.
Australia dominated a dangerous England team 37-16 while also completing a comfortable 42-24 win over Malawi to earn their place in the final.