NZU21s wrap up pool play with record score
The writing was on the wall early for Sri Lanka as the NZU21 team completed their pool phase with a 125-15 win at the Netball World Youth Cup Gaborone 2017 in Botswana on Wednesday.
Getting away to a blistering start, where they were 11-0 up after four minutes, New Zealand were on track early to post 100 goals for the ninth time in their history while also breaking their previous 93-21 record against Sri Lanka set in 2000.
It also produced the highest score of the tournament to date, passing Australia’s earlier 119 goals against Singapore.
In clocking up big totals in their three earlier pool matches, New Zealand remained intent on staying focussed, maintaining structure and trialling a diverse range of equally-impressive combinations.
The coaching staff were once again creative and thoughtful in juggling their playing personnel as the team stayed on task with a fluent, efficient and near-faultless outing against Sri Lanka, 11 of the squad received good court minutes, all changes effected with seamless efficiency as New Zealand rattled up quarter scores of 32-3, 57-9 and 90-12.
As has been the theme so far, captain Michaela Sokolich-Beatson has been used sparingly in the build-up to the business end of the tournament as she returns from a back injury.
A hard task master, coach Kiri Wills wasn’t getting too carried away at this stage but is reasonably happy with the state of play at this stage of the tournament.
``It’s not perfect yet but every game we’ve kept building and the girls keep ticking off their task lists about what they want to achieve and how they want to play the game,’’ Wills said from Botswana.
``That can be quite difficult when the games are not close and when it can be hard to stay in the moment but I thought they did better at that today than they have in some of the other games. So, yeah, pretty happy.’’
With all her team having their moments during the pool matches and without facing any undue pressure, Wills has admitted there’s some serious choices she has to make for the games ahead in post-section play.
``We always viewed coming into this tournament that there would be a few positions that would be particularly tough to decide and at tournaments like this you see who rises to the occasion and who doesn’t,’’ she said.
``Those selections across the court will be quite tough but what it does do is it allows us to pick horses for courses, so depending on the opposition, we’ll be able to select athletes that best measure up to our opponents on the day.’’
In their first match of post-section play, New Zealand will meet South Africa tomorrow night (NZ time).