Netball

Silver for Sunshine Girls in Fast5 World Series

...England claim title with pulsating 34-29 win over Jamaica

Monday, October 30, 2017



Jamaica's Sunshine Girls significantly improved their fifth-place finish at last year's Fast5 Netball World Series when they battled hard for silver against arch-rivals England in an exciting finale at the Hisense Arena in Australia yesterday.

The Sunshine Girls, who had earlier defeated the English Roses 47-38 in the rounds, failed to repeat the feat in the ultimate showdown as they went down 29-34 in a thrilling contest that was neck-and-neck until the final quarter, where England used their Power Play to full advantage.

That unfortunate defeat proved the only blemish to a rather successful campaign for the Sasher-Gaye Henry-coached team, as they proved a handful for all and sundry in the enthralling two-day tournament.

On Saturday's first day, the Jamaicans strolled past South Africa 37-29, Malawi 31-24 and hosts Australia 26-23, before getting by England and defending champions New Zealand 30-23 on their way to the final.

It was the first time in a year that a core of Jamaica's most experienced Sunshine Girls were taking up the reins, and the 10-member squad led by top-rated shooter Jhaniele Fowler-Reid did not disappoint.

This was the second time the Sunshine Girls were mining silver from the tournament, replicating the one they won at the inaugural staging back in 2009. Their next best performances at the tournament came with bronze in 2010 and 2013.

Captain Fowler-Reid credited the team's preparation to a successful 2017 campaign.

“Coming fifth last year was never on our agenda because we always come out to win, but coming out and playing for the gold medal this year was just so amazing.

“We got to show how much work we've put in and from last year to this year we've improved a lot,” Fowler-Reid said in a post-match interview.

Meanwhile, goal attack Shanice Beckford, who once again had an outstanding tournament for the Sunshine Girls, was also overwhelmed with joy by the team's performance.

“I am really happy that we improved our performance from last year; a bit disappointed though that we missed out on the gold medal, having earlier defeated England, but it is all a part of the game.

“With that said, the girls came out and played as a team, we rallied around each other as we came in the tournament confident of doing well, and so we couldn't ask for anything more. It was two gruelling days of competition and we gave it our best,” Beckford told the Jamaica Observer via telephone from the team's base in Australia.

By virtue of their victory, England became only the second country to win in the Fast-Five format of the game. However, the English had won the Fastnet World Netball Series in 2011, a precursor to the Fast Five.

Host team Australia finished third with a 34-15 scoreline over New Zealand for the second time over the weekend to add to their rivalry, while South Africa secured fifth spot with a 28-17, win over Malawi in their play-off.

In the final, Vangelee Williams was again strong in defence for Jamaica throughout, which allowed shooters Fowler-Reid and Beckford plenty of opportunities with their power play advantage in play. But the duo could only combine for 12 points to go into the half with a 18-16 deficit.

Fowler-Reid began the third quarter strongly, hitting consecutive shots, but England held strong throughout with the run through centre court from player of the tournament, Serena Guthrie, who provided the spark they needed heading into the last quarter with scores tied 24 apiece.

The fourth and final quarter of the tournament was full of long-range attempts with both sides shooting to gain the advantage, but it was a desperate effort from Helen Housby to intercept a ball following her two-point shot that turned the game in England's favour and would see her side claim victory in the tournament's most important game.

Fowler-Reid led the Jamaicans from the front with a perfect 10 goals from 10 attempts in the one-point range, with five two points goals from 11 attempts.

Beckford had one two-point goal from two attempts and a three-point super shot goal from nine attempts.

Housby led England with seven from seven at the one-point line and two from four attempts at the two-point line.

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