Diamonds crush Gems as Jamaica quells Wales

AUSTRALIA and Jamaica got their quests for Commonwealth Games golds off to the perfect start, winning their expected first-up Pool A matches. The Diamonds crushed an inexperienced Barbados – in a battle of the top-ranked netball nation up against the lowest ranked one – while the Sunshine Girls shook off an early fight from Wales to claim a big win in the later match.

AUSTRALIA 25 | 27 | 21 | 22 (95)
BARBADOS 4 | 5 | 5 | 4 (18)

Australia has thrashed Barbados by 77 goals in an expected battle of David and Goliath with the world number ones crushing the small nation in the opening game of Pool A. The Diamonds scored no less than 21 goals whilst keeping the Bajan Gems to five or less goals in each term in what was a one-sided contest.

From the get-go it was clear it would be a night for the green and gold as they raced out to an 11-1 lead in the first seven minutes, with Gretel Bueta unstoppable in the shooting circle. Combining with fell experienced shooter Steph Wood, they were making the most of their chances as Shonica Wharton and Brianna Holder struggled for opportunities up the other end of the court.

Throughout late first term and most of the second term, the Aussies went on a 20-2 run to be 47-5, and brought up the 50 on the eve of half-time, even with the experienced Latonia Blackman entered in. The favourites rotated around players throughout the second half of the match, though Barbados could take a lot of experience out of the heavy defeat.

The Bajan Gems conceded nine less goals in the second half, and their biggest challenge was now out of the way in the opening match. Australia unsurprisingly dominated with 89 per cent accuracy on goal compared to Barbados’ 58 per cent, while have 19 interception to three, 17 deflections to eight and running out 95-18 winners.

Bueta finished with 44 goals from 48 attempts before resting in the final term, while Cara Koenen slotted 35 from 38 in just the second half alone. Liz Watson (29 goals assists from 47 feeds) and Kate Moloney (14 from 32) were both outstanding in midcourt, while the outstanding work of Courtney Bruce (10 gains, four intercepts, two deflections and three rebounds), Jo Weston (six gains, four intercepts and two deflections) and Sarah Klau (five gains, three deflections, one intercept and two rebounds in a half).

For Barbados, Blackman shot six gaols from eight attempts since moving from goal defence into goal attack at quarter time, with Wharton finishing with six from 13. Shonette Azore-Bruce (five gains, three deflections, one intercept and four rebounds) was terrific up the other end of the court.

Bethan Dyke was superb for Wales despite her nation’s loss to Jamaica in the opening group match | Image credit: via VNSL Twitter

JAMAICA 16 | 22 | 17 | 17 (72)
WALES 12 | 10 | 9 | 12 (43)

In the later Pool A match, another gold medal contender in Jamaica was able to shake off a determined Wales after quarter time to come away with the 29-goal win. The Sunshine Girls loaded up on Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) talent, while Wales had plenty of Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) experience. Early on it was eight, as Georgia Rowe managed to keep in touch with super shooter Jhaniele Fowler to ensure Jamaica did not blast away from the first centre pass.

At one stage, Wales even hit the front 7-6, but a five-goal run to the Sunshine Girls gained a four goal advantage. Both Rowe and Betsy Creak cut the deficit to one once again, but five of the last six goals going the way of Jamaica in the opening term handed the Sunshine Girls the lead.

From the second term onward, it was all Jamaica as they began to build a lead., Shanice Beckford moved into goal attack and Latanya Wilson also came onto court, as Jamaica scored six of the first seven goals to open up a nine-goal lead. From there, they never surrendered it, as Fowler proved too much for the Welsh defence, coming off at half-time with her side 16 goals ahead.

The depth of the Jamaicans was obvious with SSN players such as Kadie-Ann Dehaney and Shimona Nelson able to replace Shamera Sterling and Fowler without losing any momentum. Wales also brought on fresh faces such as Eleanor Roberts to replace Rowe and Clare Jones replacing Bethan Dyke, but the Sunshine Girls were too good and secured the 72-43 victory. Jamaica shot at 91 per cent compared to 84 per cent from the brave Welsh shooters.

Rowe did finish with 18 goals from 19 attempts, as Creak had 22 from 27, though the likes of Fowler (32 from 33) and Nelson (29 at 100 per cent) proved too strong. Wilson (six gains, four intercepts, seven deflections and two rebounds) and Sterling (four gains, two intercepts, five deflections and one rebound) were outstanding, while Christina Shaw picked up Wales’ only intercept for the match, as well as two of the team’s three gains. Dyke (13 goal assists from 17 attempts) was the top feeder for Wales.


Australia has to back up with a 24-hour turnaround to take on Scotland entering the fray, while Jamaica will have a bigger challenge again, taking on South Africa in what should be a huge Pool A clash.

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