Sunshine Girls reach Gold Medal match

JAMAICA has achieved its best place finish at an international netball tournament outside the Fast5 by defeating New Zealand and reaching the Gold Medal Match of the 2022 Commonwealth Games. The Sunshine Girls have won six Bronze Medals across either the Commonwealth Games or Netball World Cup in the past, but by defeating the Silver Ferns in the semi-final overnight, they are guaranteed at least a Silver Medal and thus a top two finish. In the match, the Jamaicans hardly gave the Silver Ferns a chance dominating early and then maintaining the rage in the second half to record the 67-51 victory.

JAMAICA 18 | 18 | 16 | 15 (67)
NEW ZEALAND 9 | 13 | 13 | 16 (51)

Jamaica topped Pool A and was coming off an impressive win over world number ones Australia, so came into the clash with New Zealand as favourites. The Silver Ferns had gone down to England after a competitive start, but were still the second placed side in Pool B. It was always going to be a case of whether or not the Silver Ferns could contain Jhaniele Fowler and whether or not the Sunshine Girls could continue their remarkable form from the group stage. By quarter time those questions were answered.

Jamaica got away to a massive start, scoring 18 goals to nine in a blistering opening term as Fowler and her partner-in-crime Shanice Beckford were able to easily outscore the combination of Maia Wilson and Te Paea Selby-Rickit. Neither team made a change until five minutes into the second term, where when the Silver Ferns were 10 goals down, brought on Kelly Jury to have a crack at Fowler, replacing Sulu Fitzpatrick. Despite again keeping even, New Zealand could not make inroads ith Fowler not missing, and the Silver Ferns brought in Kayla Johnson to replace Kate Heffernan in wing defence.

Down by 14 goals at half-time, the Silver Ferns called upon Shannon Saunders and Grace Nweke to replace Gina Crampton and Maia Wilson respectively, as the Jamaicans kept the status quo. No matter the changes they made – which included bringing back Wilson after five minutes to pair with Nweke and Heffernan coming on in centre, they could not get back into the contest and the Sunshine Girls extended the lead out to 17 at the final break. Though the Silver Ferns did outscore their opponents in term four, it would be a case of too little, too late, and they suffered a 67-51 defeat.

Coming off with seven minutes to go, Fowler shot 54 goals at 100 per cent accuracy, while Beckford (10) and Shimona Nelson (three) also did not miss. Beckford had 21 goal assists from 21 feeds, while Khadijah Williams (23 from 31) and Nicole Dixon-Rochester (20 from 32) were also busy. The latter also picked up three gains, three intercepts and two deflections, while Shamera Sterling had six gains, three intercepts and one rebound.

For New Zealand, Nweke came on and shot 24 goals at 100 per cent efficiency, while Selby-Rickit (14 goals from 16 attempts) and Wilson (13 from 15) were the other scorers. Whitney Souness, Crampton and Saunders all had 14 goal assists, while Jury worked hard to pick up four deflections, one gain and one intercept in defence.

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