England survives toughest test yet to claim series
IN arguably the tightest match of the series yet, England defeated Jamaica 63 to 59 to win the best of three series between the nations. After initially trading blows, it was the Roses who were the first to build a lead.
Jamaica almost levelled things up again, but a few silly errors, including a couple of footwork calls, ensured the Sunshine Girls were unable to do so.
The return of Geva Mentor to the on court side and the athleticism of Funmi Fadoju really helped England quell the influence of Jhaniele Fowler, and Olivia Tchine and Helen Housby were not missing up the other end. It ensured England held a four goal lead heading into the first break.
The teams continued to trade blows in the opening minutes of the second quarter, with both sides picking up plenty of intercepts. As the quarter progressed to its back end though, Jamaica finally started to eat away at England’s lead, and finally drew even with a couple of minutes left in the quarter.
Jamaica took the lead inside the final minute of the quarter, and as the quarter drew to a close it held a one-goal lead. However in a concerning sign for Jamaica, Fowler had to come off court towards the end of the second quarter due to not feeling well, and did not retake her place on court at the beginning of the third.
It was Shimona Nelson who replaced her on court, and slotted in nicely to ensure Jamaica did not miss a beat in keeping up with the English.
Jamaica was able to maintain its lead for much of the third term, but as it got closer to halfway through the quarter, England had drawn level again and taken the lead. The Sunshine Girls were their own worst enemy at times as wayward passing made things more difficult for the Jamaicans.
It was tight as it could get through the middle parts of the quarter, as both sides went goal for goal and the pressure was high from both teams. But as the quarter progressed into its dying minutes, England pulled slightly away to create a little bit of a lead for themselves.
Bad passing continued to be Jamaica’s Achilles heel, and things went from bad to worse for the Sunshine Girls when Shanice Beckford went down injured and Crystal Plummer was sent off for too many intentional obstructions. However, as the teams went into the final break the margin was only four in favour of the Roses, so it really was still anyone’s game.
In a bright spark for the Jamaicans Fowler returned to court to begin the final quarter, and slowly but surely the Jamaicans began to eat away at the English lead. They got close – within two goals – but could not quite level things up.
However that would be as close as the Sunshine Girls would get as England improved their buffer and did not let the Jamaicans get that close again.
England 20 | 10 | 18 | 15 (63)
Jamaica 16 | 15 | 13 | 15 (59)
GS: Olivia Tchine
GA: Helen Housby
WA: Natalie Metcalf
C: Imogen Allison
WD: Layla Guscoth
GD: Funmi Fadoju
GK: Geva Mentor
GS: Jhaniele Fowler
GA: Shanice Beckford
WA: Khadijah Williams
C: Nicole Dixon-Rochester
WD: Crystal Plummer
GD: Jodi-Ann Ward
GK: Kadie-Ann Dehaney