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Spurs expect tougher clash from hungry Orchids in Berger Elite League

Monday, January 14, 2019

DESPITE carving out a relatively comfortable win over St Ann Orchids on Saturday, leaders Manchester Spurs expect a tougher challenge when the teams meet in back-to-back Berger Elite League (BEL) netball fixtures at Leila Robinson Courts today beginning at 6:30 pm.

The match is the first of two and will be followed by a clash between defending champions Kingston Hummingbirds and St Catherine Racers, which is set to begin at 7:45 pm.

“I expect them to come tougher than they came today, because they wouldn't want to get beaten twice … so we have to be ready for that and we have to be ready to pull through and come with a harder game as well. It won't be easy,” noted Manchester Spurs shooter Ann Kay Griffiths.

They led 15-13, 33-24 and 45-37 through the first three quarters and got the other goals from Gezelle Allison, who shot 12 of 19 and Nicole Dixon, seven of 15.

For the Orchids, Simone Gordon scored 37 goals from 46 attempts, while Thristina Harwood netted five of 10 tries, and Adean Thomas, two from two.

Matches at this stage of Netball Jamaica's semi-professional competition are very crucial for most teams, with four of the six outfits having a mathematical chance of making the semi-finals. St Ann Orchids, which have 10 points from eight matches, headline that quartet, followed by Clarendon Gaters, with nine points, St Catherine Racers seven points and the team that beat them on Saturday to reignite faint hopes, St James Sharpes, on six points from nine matches. Sharpes beat Racers 42-38 in that game.

Manchester Spurs moved to 24 points from nine matches with Saturday's 61-44 win over St Ann Orchids, while Kingston Hummingbirds stayed second with 21 from eight with a 52-45 win over Clarendon Gaters. Manchester Spurs and Kingston Hummingbirds already qualified for the semi-finals.

Meanwhile, in the Kingston Hummingbirds-Clarendon Gaters match, the winners led 14-11, 26-24, and 40-35 at the end of the first three quarters. Sabrina Spence again led their scoring with 37 goals from 42 attempts, while Shanice Beckford netted 10 of 15 and Hasana Williams sunk five of nine tries.

Spence left the game late after twisting her ankle, but Winston Nevers, Hummingbirds' head coach, said she will be fine for the play-offs.

“It (injury) is not serious. This thing happened last year in the finals. Luckily it happened this early, so we can just sit her out for another match and play our two other shooters,” said Nevers. “We're going to need her, starting with the semi-finals.”

Amanda Pinkney led the Gaters with 38 goals from 43 attempts, Shadian Hemmings scored four from seven, and Petal Smith added three goals from four tries.

“The next game definitely is a must-win because at the moment we're still in fourth and we want to ensure that we get there, not by any favours. So we're not expecting any team to lose for us to go through, we're expecting that the next game we're going come out and play as good as we have been playing or even better,” analysed Dalton Hinds, head coach of the improving Gaters, who ran the Hummingbirds and Spurs within five points in the past two matches.

In Saturday's nightcap, the play of St James Sharpes' keeper and game MVP, Danielle Johnson, against St Catherine Racers' key shooter, Tracy-Ann Barnes, was instrumental in their second victory of the season.

Also key in a game that rested on a knife's edge was the shooting of Kestina Sturridge, who hit 27 goals from 30 attempts, Vanessa Jones, 11 from 15 and Connique Moore, four from six tries. Sharpes led 12-11 and 23-21 after the first two quarters and it was 30-all at the end of the third.

Francis led Racers' scoring with 34 goals from 41 tries, while Zonasha Hinds had four goals from six tries.