International netball update: Sunshine Series / South Africa vs. Ireland

IT is a big week in international netball this week, with two different netball series begin on Saturday afternoon. With the shorter Margaret Beckford Sunshine Series one third done and the first two matches of Netball South Africa’s mini-leg of matches in the United Kingdom complete, we take a look at the results and key players so far.

Fifth ranked South Africa’s first two matches in the UK are done and dusted, coming away with two huge scorelines against the 28th ranked Republic of Ireland. South Africa played its best seven for the first match, proving far too strong for Ireland as they fired up a 101-7 final score, with Izette Griesel and Bongi Msomi teaming effortlessly in the midcourt.

The second match saw many of the squad’s key players rested but they still were far too strong, outclassing the Ireland team 96-7 though it was Ireland’s Niamh Reynolds who took home the overall player of the match award despite the loss. Also amongst Ireland’s key players across the two matches were Erin Peters and Holly Jenkinson, while Simoné Rabie had an excellent second outing for the Proteas and goal attack Lefébre Rademan won the overall player of the tournament award. The Proteas will play the Scottish Thistles on October 22 before finishing off their tour against Netball Wales on October 24, with a practice match against Northern Ireland also planned.

In Jamaica, the Sunshine Series got off to a roaring start for the home nation, taking down Trinidad and Tobago with ease in the first of their three tests credit to a huge start. While the 10th ranked Trinidad and Tobago Calypso Girls held up relatively well in the opening term, fourth ranked Jamaica’s experience and X-factor became more and more evident throughout the contest, cutting the court with ease as they ran away with a whopping 71-22 victory.

Jamaican wing defence Shadian Hemmings was named player of the match for her dash and dare, moving the ball with ease to allow the Sunshine Girls to set up in attack, and also assisting the high-powered defensive combination of Shamera Sterling and Latanya Wilson in transition. For the Calypso Girls, Afeisha Noel was the primary scorer with 13 goals from 17 attempts while Kalifa McCollin stood up well with six from six and her playmaking on show, however was struck by a potential hamstring injury in the third quarter and limped off. Despite the impressive win, Jamaican coach Connie Francis explained post-match that there is still more the Sunshine Girls want to achieve.

“I am very proud of the win but there are still areas that is of concern and going forward I think that we have time to fix it,” Francis said.

“I thought that our shooting could have been a little bit better. Sometimes our half court attack struggled at times but we are still a work in progress.”

The two nations had initially planned to play the second test on Monday, October 18, however the match has been delayed by one day to play out on Tuesday, October 19 instead. The third match is still set to go ahead on Wednesday, October 20.

Picture credit: David McNeill Photography & Film

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