Top four emerge in Americas Qualifiers

TRINIDAD & Tobago and Barbados are among the frontrunners to secure qualification to the 2023 Netball World Cup after the pair continued their winning runs at the Americas Qualifiers on day two. They were joined by the already qualified world number threes Jamaica, and the unbeaten Grenada, setting up a huge day three of action that should separate the sides.

Jamaica showed no mercy against the United States in the Sunshine Girls’ clash, running out 54-goal winners. With star shooter Jhaniele Fowler starting for the Jamaicans, the American defence double-teamed her which presented the shooting circle with the opportunity to test goal attack Kelsey Jonas‘ shooting ability. She helped deliver them an 18-7 lead and funnily enough when the favourites rotated Fowler off, the Americans found the going tougher with the greater unpredictability.

Up the other end of the court, Aniyah Langiagre was covering the court well as a goal attack, with the United States constantly trying to apply pressure to the Jamaicans. An 18-1 second term ultimately killed the contest, before the underdogs scored four goals in each of the last two quarters. Jamaica continued to keep the foot down even without Fowler on the court, running out big winners, 70-16 in the end.

Also remaining undefeated was Grenada, who took care of the winless Antigua & Barbuda to keep in touch with the qualification spots. The match started off even until the unbeaten team piled on 12 of the last 14 goals to take a 10-goal advantage into the first break. A dominant second term followed with Grenada building a lead and piling on the pressure to blow the margin out to 24 goals by half-time.

Midcourt talent Cecile Howell was providing plenty of headaches for the losing side, though both sides had scoring options in Antigua & Barbuda’s Amey Lake for Antigua & Barbuda, and Grenada’s Lottysha Cato. Though only building on its lead by two goals in the third term, Grenada stepped up in the last term to take complete control in a goal fest, running away 33-goal winners, 62-29.

In the other two matches, Trinidad & Tobago survived an almighty scare against St Vincent & The Grenadines, just escaping with a seven-goal win. Ranked 21st in the world, St Vincent & The Grenadines took it right up to the world number 11s, but ultimately fell short, 42-49. Despite being 1-2 from three games thus far, St Vincent & The Grenadines has played the top two sides and competed strongly, so winning the remaining games would stamp its ticket to Cape Town next year.

There was no such tightness for the likely third placed qualifier in Barbados, who comfortably took care of St Lucia in the late game. The Bajan Gems ran out 58-26 winners to remain undefeated, albeit from just the two games. Barbados will have a couple of crunch matches in the tournament to determine if the Bajan Gems can reach a second straight World Cup, with not only St Vincent & The Grenadines, but Grenada also fighting it out to join Jamaica and likely Trinidad & Tobago at the event.

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