Wales’ Commonwealth Games Journey Ends on a High
2018 Commonwealth Games
Wales: 81 Fiji: 32
Wednesday 11 April
Wales last faced Fiji back in October when the Pearls were the invitational team at the Netball Europe Open Championships 2017 in Cardiff. Back then, Wales recorded a 61-40 win and it was a case of history repeating as Wales completed their 2018 Commonwealth Games journey with another wide-margin victory against Fiji to take eleventh spot at the Games.
Wales began brightly with Sarah Llewelyn starting the score, continuing her good form from yesterday’s game against Malawi. Wales raced into a 5-nil lead after four minutes as Kelly Morgan picked off a loose Fijian pass. At times, it seemed that Wales could pillage the Pearls’ centre pass at will as repeated infringements at goal gave Chelsea Lewis plenty of ammunition to shoot with. Amanda Varey continued to put good pressure on the Fijian wing-defence who in turn was penalised for repeated off-side. Sympathy had to be felt for the opposition as an injury forced a Fijian substitution, with only one reserve on the bench.
The second quarter began somewhat more sluggishly for Wales, but it was not long until the team were back into their groove as the score continued to build. Wales continued to put a healthy number of feeds into the circle and as a result the score grew. Leila Thomas and Cara Lea Moseley came on for Kelly Morgan and Sarah Llewelyn respectively as the management sought to share the spoils.
Fiji came out the blocks strongly at the start of the third quarter. They took a three-goal advantage in the opening few minutes as the players in red seemed to lose some of their fluency following the substitutions. Wales did make good use of Georgia Rowe’s height in feeding some powerful long passes into the circle from mid-court and there was no danger of the wheels falling off the Welsh wagon as the quarter progressed.
Wales remained assertive as the final quarter began, with Nia Jones challenging for every ball in her direction. Fiji, badly impacted by injury and looking fatigued at this point continued to scrap but Wales soon surpassed their previous best-ever Commonwealth Games goal tally of 63, recorded against Sri Lanka back 1998.
The win marked a positive end to what has been a tournament of highs and lows for Wales. From the incredible second quarter against New Zealand, to losing Bethan Dyke to injury, the squad and management have been on something of a rollercoaster the last few days. Welsh Netball would like to thank the players, management and Team Wales for their work in representing Wales at Gold Coast 2018 and we hope that they enjoy the remainder of the tour. We also wish to thank all of our incredible supporters and partners for aiding the squad in their Commonwealth Games journey.
Players will soon be heading back to their clubs and franchises as the Vitality Netball Superleague resumes in a couple of weeks’ time. Much of the Welsh squad will return to Celtic Dragons, who sit in mid-table in the Superleague whilst Chelsea Lewis will head back for Team Bath duties. Celtic Dragons’ first home match after returning home will be against Team Northumbria on Saturday 28 April, 4pm.
21-5 (21-5); 22-12 (43-17); 15-7 (58-28); 23-4 (81-32)