What’s Happened So Far?
The Netball World Cup has so far gone according to the form book, but there has still been an abundance of drama, excitement and extraordinary shot-making. Australia, England, New Zealand and South Africa all clinched their places in the last four without suffering a single defeat between them, heading into the final day of stage two when the match-ups for the semis would be confirmed.
Defending champions Australia have been the most impressive team, sweeping aside everyone in their path with devastating all-court domination. They have not been tested at all yet, with a 73-37 victory over Zimbabwe the closest of their opening five contests. New Zealand have been similarly ruthless and actually beat Zimbabwe even more convincingly, with Maria Folau standing out as one of the tournament’s most prolific scorers.
If there has been a surprise so far, it has been the success of South Africa. Fifth in the world rankings at the start of the tournament, they edged out Jamaica 55-52 in one of the most thrilling clashes of the first stage and then maintained their form through the second phase to seal a spot in the last four for the first time since 1995.
Then there is England. The home nation turned up on day one with high hopes of ending their long wait for a first World Cup title and have looked up for the challenge. It hasn’t all been plain sailing, but they held off Jamaica 56-48 in a tight affair and overcame a tough start to see off Trinidad and Tobago 72-46, with Jo Harten and Helen Housby very much to the fore.
Semi-Final Betting Tips
The 2019 World Cup is being talked about as the most open in the competition’s history, with South Africa’s Karla Pretorius saying the quality of the semi-final line-up has helped to create a great tournament. The intensity will only increase when the two semis take place on Saturday 20th July, ahead of the final on Sunday 21st July.
Australia remain the team to beat and are now odds-on favourites to pick up a 12th world title. There is a mix of artistry and industry about the Diamonds, with shooters Caitlin Bassett, Gretel Tippett, Caitlin Thwaites and Steph Wood both creative and clinical in attack. They are equally strong further back in the court, disrupting the rhythm of their opponents with hard work and intelligence.
It will take a stunning performance to stop Australia and it could be the team that retains the ball most effectively that has the best chance, whilst perhaps introducing some new tactics that take the champions by surprise. England have shown a willingness to experiment throughout their early games and there is a feeling within Tracey Neville’s Roses camp that the pressure has been lifted a bit now they have safely negotiated a route to the semi-finals. They will need to improve to become champions, but still look the likeliest challengers to Australia with a home crowd behind them. England can be backed to win at around 13/5.
New Zealand have shown flair and dynamism so far to cruise through to the semi-finals without seeming to break sweat. However, they won’t find it as easy to carve open defences in the latter stages and will need to be even more accurate in front of goal. South Africa are the outsiders of the four but may be the most battle-hardened, having had to come through a couple of very tricky encounters. With nothing to lose, they are certainly capable of springing another surprise or two, but may just lack the all-round strength to go all the way.