New Zealand has defended its 21 and Under world title, defeating Australia by three goals in the goal medal match of the Netball World Youth Cup in Gaborone, Botswana.

Photo: BenDan Photography

Huge games by Silver Fern bookends Kelly Jury and Maia Wilson secured the win, despite Australia having 13 more attempts at goal.

Australia found it difficult to adjust to inconsistent umpiring interpretation of obstruction, Australian defenders penalised nearly double that of their NZ counterparts inside the circles.

Nervous early turnovers by NZ saw them chasing a small deficit for most of the first half. Australia settled first, shooters Sasha Glasgow and Keira Austin starting the game confidently.

Jess Anstiss and Hannah Petty’s ball release was well-timed, absorbing NZ’s jump on the first second and finding free players after one or two seconds. They worked spaces deliberately and with good awareness of each other.

Australia had the chance to push the lead out to five during the first quarter, but couldn’t convert. They held a three-goal lead at quarter time.

Photo: BenDan Photography

Jury’s height and pressure over the shot began to rattle Glasgow in the second quarter, with a notable lack of obstruction calls compared to the heavily-penalised Australian defence. Despite five intercepts to Australia in the second quarter, NZ’s superior goal conversion saw them edge to within one goal of Australia by half-time.

Australia continued to take long range attempts at goal, rather than re-positioning for a closer shot or passing between shooters. Jury influenced the game with intense pressure over the shot and strong rebounding.

Maia Wilson and Tiana Metaurau settled into a shooting rhythm, but NZ coach Kiri Wills wasn’t afraid to make changes. The diminutive Kimiora Poi replaced Charlotte Elley part-way through the second quarter and immediately provided run and fast ball movement. Wills also substituted Metaurau for Monica Falkner at half time.

Falkner’s introduction was seamless. She shot well and gained depth on court against Hinchcliffe, who had taken three intercepts in the second quarter. The change in positioning drew Hinchliffe away from the circle and allowed Wilson to control the one-on-one contest against Matilda Garrett. Wilson scored 15 goals in a dominant third quarter, setting up a four-goal lead to NZ at the final break.

With four minutes remaining in the third quarter, Australian coach Tania Obst made a change in her shooting circle. The towering Emma Ryde replaced Glasgow, to lessen Jury’s influence on the game and provide a tall target close to the post. Hinchliffe and Garrett also appeared to attempt to swap into their more natural positions during the timeout, but reverted to their starting positions at the last second.

Despite missing a few early sitters, Ryde began to provide a target and contributed 13 goals in the last quarter. However, the change in shooting style also meant that Jury was less occupied by her opponent’s movement and able to fly out at intercepts around the circle, which she did to perfection on three occasions.

Alice Teague-Neeld joined Ryde on court for the final minutes as Austin’s impressive workload became a strain. Australia closed the margin late in the game to three, but it wasn’t enough.

Jury’s control over the Australian shooting circle and Wilson’s finishing were match-winning efforts, ably assisted by a consistent kiwi midcourt.

It is a rare player who debuts for their senior national team before playing at the World Youth Cup. New Zealand were blessed with two. Wilson and Jury are already looking like mainstays of the Silver Ferns for many years to come.

Photo: BenDan Photography

The ANZ Premiership has been vital to New Zealand’s youth title success. Poi’s elevation from the Aotearoa Maori squad last year to the NZ team was helped by a breakthrough ANZP season; along with others like Michaela Sokolich-Beatson and Mila Reuelu-Buchanan.

Australia’s junior talent pathways continue to be loaded with viable options for junior national teams. There are sometimes notable omissions in the under 21 team, such is the competition for spots. The WYC has provided an opportunity for players to stake their claim for Suncorp Super Netball court time and higher honours in future. Players like Austin, Petty and Hinchcliffe have taken their opportunities and should become important members of their SSN team, like Glasgow and WYC MVP Jamie-Lee Price.

The WYC is over for another four years. By the time the next one rolls around in Fiji in 2021, NZ will have held the cup for nearly 12 years. Will this translate to greater success at senior level?

Photo: BenDan Photography

 

New Zealand 60 def Australia 57
Player of the Match:
Kelly Jury (New Zealand)

 

New Zealand
Wilson 43/46 93
Metuarau 8/8 100%
Falkner 9/12 75%
60/66 91%

Australia
Glasgow 18/28 64%
Austin 24/32 75%
Ryde 14/17 82%
Teague-Neeld 1/2 50%
57/79 72%

 

Key stats

Penalties

Australia 83
Garrett 29
Hinchliffe 29
Price 9

New Zealand 50
Jury 17
Sokolich-Beatson 14
I’oane 12

 

Intercepts
Hinchliffe (Australia) 4
Jury (New Zealand) 3
Austin (Australia) 2

 

Deflections
Garrett (Australia) 5

 

Photos: BenDan Photography (Facebook.com/BenDan Photography)