Malawi Queens missed their top-three finish target at the Fast5 Netball World Series by a whisker, but still bowed out with their heads held high after improving on last year’s performance.
In what was an entertaining fight to the end, New Zealand’s Kiwis overcame Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls 34-33 in the battle for gold, with the Kiwis claiming another Fast5 Netball World Series trophy to add to their silverware cabinet.
The Queens, who had shoddy preparations ahead of the six-team showcase, had mixed fortunes yesterday, beating their African rivals South Africa 33-32 before losing to New Sealand 36-16 and then hosts Australia 38-15 in a third-place match at the Melbourne Arena.
In contrast, last year, the Queens lost all their six games to finish last, but at this year’s edition they won two, including against immediate past champions England’s Roses (27-26).
Coach Griffin ‘Zagallo’ Saenda said despite his charges’ failure to win bronze, they showed characteristic grit to contest for a third-place finish.
“Out of the six teams, we were the least prepared due to lack of resources, but the girls still put up a gallant fight to beat teams like England and South Africa who were involved in a pre-tournament test-series.
“We only had one test match against England a day before the tournament and this shows that with good preparations, we have the potential to do better,” he said.
However, while acknowledging the improved results, Queens’ legend Judith Chalusa said the team has the potential to do better.
“Beating teams like England shows that we are not far off, but then we lack that hunger to go an extra mile. We should not be satisfied with finishing fourth when we have won bronze before.
“Nevertheless, the girls deserve a pat on the back for improving on last year’s performance,” she said.
Against Australia, the Queens trailed 6-3 in the first quarter and trailed 14-8 at half time.
From then on, the hosts went into cruise control and led by a yawning 20-basket margin (23-13) at the end of the third quarter before extending it to 23 baskets to win 38-15 at the end of the game.
Earlier on, a three-point shot on the buzzer from Jane Chimaliro secured the Queens’ victory against South Africa in a scintillating thriller.
The Queens led 13-11 at half time and charged ahead during their third quarter power play extending the lead to 27-14 at the end of the third quarter.
Malawi’s major weakness at the event was failure to shoot from long range as they relied mostly on one point goals other than two-point goals or three-point supershots. n