It may have been the play-off for fifth, but giant-killers the Malawi Queens celebrated like they had taken out the Fast5 World Series title after their 33-30 victory over Australia tonight.
Mwai Kumwenda, the Malawi Queens' star shooter, was beaming for a long time after the victory: "We are very excited, Australia are a very tough team." It was the second time during the tournament that the crowd darlings had beaten Australia, world champions of the seven-a-side game, on top of a victory over Fast5 finalists England.
"It has been a good experience for us. Most of the time we can't come to events because of money. But this has been good for us, and people in Malawi are so excited," said Kumwenda, who would love the opportunity to play in the ANZ Championships.
The Australians, on the other hand, were coming to terms with leaving Auckland without a win during the three-day tournament, but coach Lisa Alexander was far from despondent.
"It think it needs to be very clear to the netball public that we were taking into this competition a development team and yes, we don't like losing and it's very unAustralian in respects of netball, but we also have to respect the other teams," she said.
"Malawi did a great job. In their second quarter they completely and utterly outplayed us, and we weren't totally expecting that." Malawi led 18-12 at halftime. "But I was really proud of the way the girls game back and shot some six pointers and three pointers," Alexander said of the Fast5 Diamonds, who drew back within one going into the final quarter.
"If we had our time again of course we'd spend more time on making sure we had the right mix of players. But the players who have come here have certainly grown and had the experience of playing international competitors of the highest order and they've developed over the week.
"It's not enjoyable for an Australian team to come overseas and not win a game, and that's part of the problem. We are very hard on ourselves, we need to make sure that we keep this in perspective, and ensure these players are protected from unnecessary criticism."
Alexander praised Netball NZ for its organisation of the tournament, and the Fast Ferns for their performance so far.
"The Ferns have really embraced it, and it suits their outside shooting game, have that flair in their game; we are much more structured and precise in our game."