Aussies force Sunshine Girls into bronze-medal match
GLASGOW, Scotland — Jamaica's Sunshine Girls will not realise their dreams of becoming Commonwealth Games champions. At least, not this time around.
In their semi-final match against world number one Australia at the Scottish Exhibition Conference Centre (SECC) yesterday, the fourth-ranked Jamaicans lacked the finesse to get the better of the technically astute Australians, losing 42-57.
And the Jamaicans themselves blamed a "lapse in concentration" and "too may unforced errors" for their defeat.
"I am very disappointed... we started well, but our concentration lapsed... our (lack of) experience set in as we have a set of young players, but we the experienced players have to talk them through it," said Romelda Aiken, who started the game in a goalkeeping position, an apparent attempt to take advantage of her height and aggressive play.
Normally, she plays goal-shoot as she does in the ANZ league.
Her sister, Nicole Aiken-Pinnock, too, has been used in that position to good effect throughout the tournament.
Coach Minneth Reynolds argued that, in addition to conceding "too many" turnovers and errors, impatience in attack was also a major deterrent in the push for victory.
"There were too many turnovers and unforced errors... we were (also) very impatient in the attacking third, because when we were supposed to hold onto the ball, we were hasty with it," she said after the heartbreaking loss.
For today's bronze medal match against third-ranked England, Reynolds is promising that the sun will shine for the girls in what forecasters say will be a grey day here in Glasgow.
"We will bounce back for the game tomorrow (today)... we had a talk with them (the players) after the game and they understand (what we have to do). I think they are a mature set of players and we will just have to get them focused again. We will have to work on our concentration and mental levels," she noted.
Finishing fourth is no longer something that Jamaica's netball can afford.
"We are tired of finishing fourth and we came here for a medal and tomorrow (today) we are going to fight (for it). It's very important for us to win a medal and it's important also for our sponsors," she added.
In the other semi-final, England squandered a great opportunity to defeat New Zealand when they allowed them to rally late for a thrilling finish, 35-34.
Top-scoring for Jamaica in yesterday's match was goal-shoot Jhaniele Fowler-Reid, who was on target 32 times from 37 attempts, while the wiry and mobile goal-attack Shanice Beckford had 10 from 13.
Australia's Caitlin Bassett top-scored with 41 from 51 attempts, followed by goal-attack Natlie Medhurst with 16 from 18 tries.
Having conceded the first quarter 13-9, Jamaica fought back in the second stanza to win 14-11. But they could not maintain that momentum in the third and fourth periods, squandering them 16-9 and 17-10.
The bronze medal match between Jamaica and England will be played 10:00 am (4:00 am Jamaica time), while the gold medal showdown between Australia and New Zealand is scheduled for 12:30 pm (6:30 am Jamaica time).
In their preliminary games, Jamaica defeated St Lucia 88-24, Northern Ireland 65-34, Scotland 68-26, Malawi 81-50, then lost to New Zealand 42-50.
Jamaica last medalled at the Commonwealth Games, when they won bronze in Manchester, England, in 2002.