Netball: Fast Ferns oust England

Netball players (L-R) Mwai Kumwenda (Malawi), Laura Langman (NZ), Joanne Harten (England), Nadine Bryan (Jamaica), Alissa Macleod (AUS), Simi Mdaka (South Africa), Eboni Beckford-Chambers (England) and Joanna Kachilika (Malawi) during the launch of the first Fast5 Netball World Series, Tuesday. Photo from NZ Herald.
Netball players (L-R) Mwai Kumwenda (Malawi), Laura Langman (NZ), Joanne Harten (England), Nadine Bryan (Jamaica), Alissa Macleod (AUS), Simi Mdaka (South Africa), Eboni Beckford-Chambers (England) and Joanna Kachilika (Malawi) during the launch of the first Fast5 Netball World Series, Tuesday. Photo from NZ Herald.
New Zealand's star-studded line-up ousted England 23-21 in last night's Fast5 grand final, in a battle of attrition that was contrary to what the shortened version of the game is all about, capping off a weekend of otherwise spectacular action.

The question still remains whether it is worthwhile the International Netball Federation redirecting their limited resources into a spin-off version when there is still much that needs to be done to grow the original game, but as a concept, Fast5 is an improvement from its previous incarnation, FastNet.

After disappointing crowds over the first two days of the tournament, Vector Arena was at near-capacity for finals day with 5500 fans packing into the venue.

With their sparkly wigs, pink feather boas and questionable dance moves, the crowd helped create the festival atmosphere Netball New Zealand was hoping for.

The Fast Ferns did their part to delight the fans - both with their play on court, and their pre-match antics.

Introduced on court wearing bright pink bandanas, the Ferns relished the chance to play the entertainers, performing the Gangnam Style dance before the national anthems.

One of New Zealand netball's most well-known names of yesteryear, Dame Lois Muir, calls the new series "an exciting work in progress".

But wing attacks and wing defences of the world need not fear for their future. Muir believes much like rugby sevens, Fast5 will not take over from the traditional form of the game, and the event will attract a different style of athlete.

Many have highlighted the success of the African nations in the tournament as having positive spin-offs for the global game, but it remains to be seen whether the profile of the likes of the Malawi Queens and South African netballers will be boosted after their impressive results this weekend.

One of the best features of Fast5, for Kiwi fans anyway, is that Australia does not reign supreme on the purple court. The Fast5 Diamonds finished last in the tournament, having struggled to adapt to the concept.

South Africa finished with bronze after a 38-34 win over Jamaica in the play-off for third and fourth.

By Dana Johannsen. 


Fast5Final standings

1 New Zealand
2 England
3 South Africa
4 Jamaica
5 Malawi
6 Australia