Netball Nations Cup: Hosts England win bronze as New Zealand lift trophy

England netball
England are the reigning Commonwealth champions

England defender Stacey Francis says the team "expect to do better than third" after taking bronze at the first Netball Nations Cup, as New Zealand triumphed at London's Copper Box.

The Roses edged South Africa 65-63 in the third-place play-off.

World champions the Silver Ferns outclassed Jamaica 67-56 in the final.

"We're ambitious and not making the final was an opportunity missed," said Francis, who plays her club netball in Australia for West Coast Fever.

Francis has won three bronze medals at major competitions for England, and added: "I'm quite used to winning bronze - but I wouldn't want that to be my legacy in being involved with England.

"The [2018 Commonwealth] gold medal was testament to the potential for this team to be world-beaters.

"We don't want to become a team that is happy with a 50-50 success rate as we want to win every time we step on the court."

Jamaica capitulate under pressure

England's game against South Africa served as a curtain-raiser to the final, where the unbeaten Kiwis took on a resurgent Jamaica.

The heavy 71-45 loss to New Zealand earlier in the competition was a distant memory for a fired-up Jamaica as they went toe-to-toe with their opponents in the first half.

The Sunshine Girls, spearheaded by an aggressive Kadie-Ann Dehaney and Shamera Sterling in defence, really tested New Zealand's resolve and the teams were level at half-time, 30-30.

But Jamaica, guilty of capitulating when the game starts to get away from them in this tournament, did just that with the score at 42-37 in the third quarter.

Defenders Jane Watson and Phoenix Karaka began to stifle balls into Jamaica shooter Jhaniele Fowler, further fuelling the world number four side's frustrations.

New Zealand switched up a gear in attack, with Gina Crampton, captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Maia Wilson brilliantly diligent.

An eight-goal lead quickly turned into 10 and even though Jamaica persisted, a classy New Zealand fully deserved their win.

New Zealand
New Zealand won the inaugural tournament in London

England win by a whisker

England netball
England Captain Natalie Haythornthwaite was named player of the match in what was her 50th England cap

Thirlby made three changes to the starting seven that lost to Jamaica on Saturday, handing Razia Quashie and Amy Carter their first starts of the tournament as George Fisher came in at goal shooter.

It gave the world number three side more depth in defence and was the foundation for a confident opening quarter, with defender Quashie proving especially effective.

The Roses' fluidity and sharpness faded as the second quarter progressed, but an uncharacteristically flat Proteas could not take advantage, and England led 36-29 at half-time.

England chipped away at South Africa's resolve without doing anything too flashy but as a hint of complacency crept in for the hosts, the revitalised visitors roared back to level the score at 46-46.

Eleanor Cardwell, one of England's strongest performers in the competition, collected a series of brilliant feeds from captain Natalie Haythronthwaite, before popping in her shots to wrestle the momentum back at three-quarter-time.

Jade Clarke, England's most capped player on 176, moved to centre for the final quarter, with composure and experience needed as the game went goal-for-goal.

However the evergreen Wasps player could not prevent an increasingly desperate England from surrendering the lead for the first time in the game with four minutes to go.

But then a turnover in the dying seconds from the relentless Francis, who pounced on a bobbling ball, was the turning point of the match and England held on to win by a whisker.

Teams now take an international break for the domestic season, before England, South Africa and New Zealand join Australia for the Quad Series in September.

England starting seven: GK Razia Quashie, GD Stacey Francis, WD Jade Clarke, C Amy Carter, WA Natalie Haythornthwaite, GA Eleanor Cardwell, GS George Fisher

South Africa starting seven: GK Phumza Maweni, GD Karla Pretorius, WD Shadine Van Der Merwe, C Khanyisa Chawane, WA Izette Griesel, GA Lefebre Rademan, GS Lenize Potgieter

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