Six of the world’s best international netball teams will be on the courts at Melbourne’s Hisense Arena this weekend, aiming to become Fast5 World Series victors. The England Roses are the current title holders but can they retain the trophy for another year?
The Fast5 Netball World Series – What Is It?
If the word “netball” conjures up images of dreary school sports lessons in your mind, Fast5 will make you think again. Like Rugby Sevens and Twenty20 cricket, it has its origins in a traditional sport but is faster-paced and features thrilling twists.
Each game played in the Fast5 World Series lasts just 24 minutes, so the five-player teams need to show their mettle straight away. If a player scores a goal from the court’s inner circle, a point will be awarded to their team. However, if they score one from within the standard circle, they’ll add two points to their team’s tally, while scoring from the “super shot” zone will increase their haul by three. In addition, points-boosting “power play” periods give teams the chance to leap ahead.
The tournament will feature six international squads: Australia, England, South Africa, New Zealand, Malawi and Jamaica. Each team will initially play each other once. Play-offs for 6th and 5th, and 4th and 3rd places are followed by the Grand Final. The distinctive netball trophy is then presented to the competition’s winners.
The event has been taking place annually since 2009. The first edition was held at what’s now known as the Manchester Arena and acted as a trial run for an updated version of netball, originally dubbed “FastNet”. Prior to the 2012 competition, the game’s rules changed dramatically and the sport was renamed “Fast5”.
The England Roses – How Will They Fare in Australia?
England is one of only two nations to have won the Fast5 Netball World Series. While New Zealand has seized the title on six occasions, the Roses triumphed in 2011 (under the old “FastNet” rules) and in 2017.
Last year, the England Roses beat the reigning champions, New Zealand, by 37-30 in their opening match. They then defeated Malawi by 43-15 and South Africa by 43-33. On Day 2 of the competition, they won their match against Australia by 28-19 but were unable to defeat the Jamaicans, who triumphed by 47-38. By that time, however, the Roses had already done enough to secure a place in the final. They took to the court again for a final showdown against Jamaica and got revenge on the Sunshine Sisters with a 34-29 win.
England’s netball stars have put in some impressive performances so far this year, so they could be on track for a successful Fast5 World Series campaign. They finished second to Australia in both of 2018’s Quad Series events and, in April, they won England’s first netball gold medal at the Commonwealth Games. Unfortunately, however, their recent series against the Jamaica didn’t go their way: the Sunshine Girls defeated them in all three matches.
Another concerning issue is that Jo Harten, who’d been named as England’s captain for the tournament, will no longer be taking part. Harten was one of the Roses’ biggest assets at the Commonwealth Games, scoring 202 of their 450 goals. However, with plenty of other talented players on the team, England still have the potential to go far in this year’s competition.
Will the England Roses win the 2018 Fast5 Netball World Series? Leave a comment below or tell us what you think on Twitter or Facebook.