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Netball Semi Final showdowns

24 Mar 06 21:21

Captain Elaine Davis a key player in the Jamaican team.

Captain Elaine Davis a key player in the Jamaican team.

It's down to the Semi Finals of the Games Netball competition, with New Zealand playing Jamaica at 6.30pm and Australia taking on England at 8.30pm for a place in the gold medal match on Day 11 (26 March).

In the first Semi Final at the Multi Purpose Venue, World Champions New Zealand will meet a dangerous Jamaican outfit.

New Zealand finished on top of group one, but will need to be at the top of their game against their Jamaican opponents, who finished second in group two behind Australia on percentage.

Jamaica staged a courageous 10-goal fight back against Australia to draw 54-54 in the Preliminary Rounds, nearly sneaking top spot in Group 2 from the pre-Games favourites.

New Zealand is yet to be pushed in any of its matches and have been impressive in the preliminary rounds.

Goal shooters Irene Van Dyk and Jamaican captain Elaine Davis hold the key for their respective teams, with the shooting accuracy and towering strength of both crucial to their teams’ success.

The match-up in the centre between New Zealand's Temepara George and Jamaica’s Nadine Bryan also promises to be a thrilling dual between two exciting and athletic players.

Both are the driving forces in their line-ups and the outcome of this clash could be a deciding factor in the outcome of the match.

New Zealand clearly deserves to start as the favourite, but Jamaica is capable of causing a major upset, particularly if they can keep their unforced errors to a minimum and remain disciplined for the hour-long encounter.

In the second Semi Final, Manchester 2002 Games gold medallists Australia will take on an England side who have been slowly gathering momentum with each match.

England's defenders Geva Mentor and Sonia Mkoloma will provide a difficult challenge for the Australian shooters, with the battle between Australia’s Captain Sharelle McMahon and Mkoloma likely to be one of the games pivotal contests.

Australia has suffered some lapses in concentration at times, but has always managed to put some brilliant passages of play together during their Preliminary Rounds to get them out of trouble. The Australian team's shooting percentages are also very high with debutante Susan Pratley returning an 89 per cent strike rate.

The Australians will need to apply strong full-court defensive pressure to subdue the speed of England’s mid-court, with Captain Olivia Murphy playing a crucial role in the centre.

Australia's big match experience and superior physical presence should prove too strong for England.

For all the final competition placings, visit the Netball Schedule and Results section of this Website.

- Games News Service

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