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Netball: England suffer defeat in series opener against Jamaica

Netball: England suffer defeat in series opener against Jamaica

Posted by Shanelle Weir on January 12, 2015

England stumbled to a 56-47 defeat against Jamaica in the opening match of their series in Kingston.

Anna Mayes' side struggled to cope with the hard-working hosts, who applied constant pressure from the start, and England now face an uphill task in the best-of-three series.  

Both sides appeared evenly matched in the early stages as they were locked at 8-8 midway through the opening quarter.

England were surrendering possession with misplaced feeds into the circle and Jamaica took full advantage, using the remarkable reach of Romelda Aiken. But a late Jo Harten double allowed the visitors to level at 13-13 in the closing stages of Q1.     

The introduction of the experienced Pamela Cookey failed to settle England in the second quarter and Jamaica produced a five goal streak to delight the home crowd.

This setback drew a determined English response as they answered with a three goal run, but basic errors continued to creep into their game and a loose pass or penalty call would hand the initiative back to Jamaica. 

A direct, high tempo approach was working well for the home side and they opened up a 30-24 lead at the interval.

Stacey Francis was introduced at WD for the third quarter, with Sara Bayman switching to C, and these changes appeared to pay off when Harten added a quick double, while Geva Mentor put her body on the line to take an intercept.  

With Francis working hard as part of the reformed defensive unit, England were starting to stifle the Jamaican shooters and were back to within three and in control of turnover ball at a time-out. When play restarted, a conversion and score from centre-pass cut the Sunshine Girls' lead down to one.   

But Cookey was then called for a costly offside following her switch to WA, with Rachel Dunn back on at GA, and the hosts seized control as Jhaniele Fowler-Reid punished any mistakes or missed opportunities. 

Heading into the final quarter, Jamaica had opened up a 42-34 lead, prompting more changes from England with Kadeen Corbin taking over at GS, Harten shifting to GA. Eboni Beckford-Chambers joined Ama Agbeze in the defensive circle.

England started the final quarter well with Corbin netting a wonderful finish from just inside the circle and Harten combined superbly with her attacking unit to reduce the gap to five. 

But a couple of mistimed feeds allowed Jamaica to extend the lead as they calmly moved the ball through court to goal with increasing ruthlessness.

The Sunshine Girls celebrated at the final whistle as they notched up a second successive victory over England, but the visitors will be relishing the chance to inflict their revenge when the sides meet for game two later this evening.

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