The England Roses fell short against Jamaica in the first game of the Sunshine Series in Kingston, with Jamaica securing a 55-43 win.
The first meeting between the two sides since the Commonwealth Games was fast-paced and intense throughout but Jamaica proved too strong.
England’s Natalie Panagarry took first centre pass, with Jamaica intercepting and opening the scoring.
The Roses stayed hot on Jamaica’s heels but the Sunshine Girls established a five-goal lead towards the end of the first quarter, leaving the score at 11-16.
Footwork by England saw Jamaica take possession of the ball again and continue to strengthen their grip on the game at the start of the second quarter.
Tracey Neville made several changes – Summer Artman coming on as GK, Layla Guscoth moving to GD, Jodie Gibson coming on as WD and Jade Clarke moving to C – with England looking to get a foothold back into the game.
Good defensive pressure from the Roses saw Gibson intercept and set England on the attack with Housby finishing off the move.
Sharp shooting from the Sunshine Girls saw them win a physical second quarter 19-10 and lead 34-21 at half-time.
As the Roses sought to close the gap, Neville made further changes at the break, bringing Kadeen Corbin on for Eleanor Cardwell and Sasha Corbin on for Clarke.
Jamaica picked up where they left off and continued to show their dominance with Shantal Slater scoring three from three.
Razia Quashie was handed her senior debut during the third quarter, the young defender came on in place of Artman to win her first senior cap for the Roses.
Chelsea Pitman and S. Corbin combined well as the Roses started to pull it back, but a few missed opportunities saw Jamaica pounce and work the ball back to their end of the court to go into the final 15 leading 46-32.
England came out fighting in the final quarter, with a few changes as Ella Clark moved to GA, Panagarry went to C, S. Corbin moved to WA, and Pitman and K. Corbin came off.
Quashie displayed strength and composure, pouncing on a loose ball and starting the Roses’ transition from defence to attack.
With three minutes to go, quick and accurate play from the Roses was rewarded with two in a row from Housby before Clark made it 51-42.
England kept battling but the first match of the Sunshine Series continued to go Jamaica’s way.
The hosts found an extra gear to accelerate with a final flurry of goals as it finished 55-43.
The Roses will have a chance to level the playing field on Sunday in the second match of the series, which will be followed by the final game on Tuesday.
England’s starting 7: GS – Helen Housby, GA – Eleanor Cardwell, WA – Chelsea Pitman, C – Natalie Panagarry, WD – Jade Clarke, GD – Jodie Gibson, GK – Layla Guscoth.
Jamaica’s starting 7: GS – Jhaniele Fowler, GA – Shanice Beckford, WA – Khadijah Williams, C – Adean Thomas, WD – Vangelee Williams, GD – Stacian Facey, GK – Shamera Sterling.