'The second half was two quarters of errors,' laments Francis
FRANCIS...we got stagnant and we weren't moving how we practised because it seems the drive and legs were just not there (Photo: Observer file)

IT is true that you can't change a bad game or shaky performance; those things are already in the past. But what you can control is how you respond and improve for the next game.

That is the approach being taken by Sunshine Girls Head Coach Connie Francis as she plots the way forward following her team's substandard showing against England's Roses in the Vitality Netball 'Roses Reunited' Series opener at Copper Box Arena in London on Sunday.

The number four-ranked Sunshine Girls were woeful in the second half of Sunday's encounter and as a result, meekly surrendered to a 45-55 defeat — their first to England since the 2019 Netball World Cup.

“A lack of concentration cost us the game,” Francis told the Jamaica Observer shortly after the final whistle.

“Alot of things happened and I thought that we would have been able to make a run, but we didn't. We tried in the first half. In fact, I think they only played two quarters of the game because the second half was two quarters of errors.

“Our midcourt is really a big concern. We saw it when were back home playing against Trinidad and Tobago and we tried to fix it, but they just didn't come to the fore,” the coach noted.

“So we just have to make some changes in that area or persons are just going to have to step up and pocket the ball properly through the court, especially from our centre pass,” she added.

Led by Captain Jhaniele Fowler, who ended with 40 goals from 41 attempts, the Sunshine Girls started positively, rallying late to top the first quarter 11-10 and again to tie the second quarter 15-15, for a slim 26-25 lead at the half-time break.

But from there it was a downward spiral, almost as if the experienced Jamaican outfit got stage fright inside the packed-to-capacity arena.

Goal attack Shanice Beckford contributed the other five goals for the Sunshine Girls before taking up assignment as a wing attack in an attempt to remedy their goal rate.

The Roses, who were playing in front of a home crowd for the first time since the Nations Cup last year, rode the momentum, and with the vociferous cheers of the 7,500 strong crowd, capitalised on every turnover.

Jo Harten, returning from a two-year plus absence, was on point for the Roses with 30 goals from 39 attempts, while Player of the Match Eleanor Cardwell sank 20 of her 22 attempts.

Despite lamenting the high turnover rate, Francis lauded the defence, led by the explosive Shamera Sterling, Latanya Wilson and Kadie-Ann Dehaney, for their gallantry.

“I keep saying that whenever we connect to Jhaniele we would be fine but then we continued to make alot of passing errors, and because of that our defending team was overworked because each time we lost possession they had to battle to get it back,” Francis said.

“We had our opportunities to take control of the game but didn't make the most of them. We got stagnant and we weren't moving how we practised because it seems the drive and legs were just not there,” she reasoned.

Francis, who accepted most of the responsibility for her team's poor display, pointed out that they will head straight to the training ground to iron out the kinks as soon as they arrive in Nottingham (yesterday).

Both the second and the third games will be played at the Motorpoint Arena in that city on December 4 and 5.

“I am a bit disappointed but as a coach I have to take responsibility for what happened and try to correct it as we go forward because we still have two more games to go — which means we still have a chance to win the series,” she said.

“This was really our first challenge against a high-quality team and I just want to see how we bounce back. Do we have it in our legs and the mental capacity to do so? Yes we do.

“So we are going to get our heads together, recognise where we went wrong after we do our video analysis and come up with a better plan to add to our mental and physical preparations,” Francis ended.

BY SHERDON COWAN Observer staff reporter cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

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