Jamaica's Sunshine Girls will be hoping to salvage some pride in the final game of the Vitality 'Roses Reunited' three-match Netball series, after another dismal display saw them being condemned to a 19-goal defeat by their hosts in game two at Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham yesterday.
After going down 45-55 in the series opener last Saturday, the Jamaicans again found the going tough as they were completely outplayed by the Roses, who romped to an emphatic 66-47 victory.
With yesterday's outcome already confirming their first series defeat to their number three-ranked rivals since 2013, avoiding a sweep is all that is now left for the number four-ranked Sunshine Girls to aspire to in today's contest scheduled for 11:00 am Jamaica time at the same venue.
Head Coach Connie Francis acknowledged that it will be mentally challenging to rebound from the loss, but promised that her team will fight to the end.
“It will be mentally challenging, but we intend to come out and give off our best,” she told the Jamaica Observer shortly after the contest.
“I was just watching back the video and there are some parts of the game where we looked good and some parts where we weren't so good. We continue to struggle with turnovers and it comes down to controlling those errors, I tried to see if the changes would help but it didn't.
“The girls are still upbeat and so again we are going to take it one quarter at a time and see how best we can manage the game and hopefully come out with a win,” Francis said.
The Sunshine Girls were again slow into stride yesterday, but unlike the first game when they rallied to lead at the end of the opening quarter, there was no coming back on this occasion as Jess Thirlby's Roses raced to a 21-13 lead at the end of the first 15 minutes.
Connie Francis's side, which had a number of changes, struggled to really penetrate England's defence with shooting stalwart and Captain Jhaniele Fowler being smothered by Eboni Usoro-Brown for the most part, while Eleanor Cardwell and Jo Harten wreaked havoc at the other end.
Though looking a bit more purposeful in the second quarter, with explosive defender Shamera Sterling brought in at her customary goalkeeping position to remedy the Cardwell problem, the Jamaicans were made to pay for a number of unforced errors, as the ruthless Roses opened up a 16-goal lead, at 35-19 at half-time.
From there, it became a stroll for the hosts, who used the next two quarters to showcase their depth, while the Sunshine Girls continued to be haunted by their lack of composure, particularly in midcourt, which again resulted in another second half of errors.
Despite slightly reducing the deficit in the third quarter that ended 49-33, after both teams scored 14 goals apiece due to their high turnover rate which at one point resulted in a lull, it was almost as if the Sunshine Girls didn't really adjust and adapt.
With the writing already on the wall for the Sunshine Girls, Thirlby brought on Fowler's West Coast Fever teammate, Stacey Francis-Bayman for her first appearance in Nottingham and the defender compounded Jamaica's problems by thwarting the incoming feed to the towering shooter.
That opened up further opportunities for the Roses to capitalise — and that they did in merciless fashion.
— Sherdon Cowan