A shooting masterclass from Jhaniele Fowler-Reid and a wonderful defensive display led by Shamera Sterling, saw Jamaica take a dominant 66-49 victory over England at the Copper Box this evening.
Super Sunshine Girls down rusty Roses
During a night in which the capital rose to salute Jade Clarke as the most capped England player of all time, her 130th appearance in a red dress proved one to forget.
It had all started so differently for England as a strong starting seven with over 500 combined caps, took the game to their Caribbean visitors.
An out of court call against Fowler-Reid allowed Jo Harten to move England into an early lead. The Roses continued to threaten with only a sensational steal from Sterling halting the momentum
The movement in the final third from England was sublime as they created excellent angles with which to feed the circle. A Kadeen Corbin drive was spotted by Jade Clarke as the hosts moved into a 12-7 lead.
An athletic Sunshine Girls defence were able to disrupt some ball in the first quarter and the imperious Fowler-Reid was on form to keep them in touch at 16-12.
With England failing to build a commanding advantage, Jamaica set about making in-roads early in the second set of fifteen minutes.
Vangelee Williams caught the Roses attack sleeping on centre-pass and stole possession which was converted again by Fowler-Reid.
The gap was quickly down to two and a missed feed into the circle allowed Jamaica to level things up midway through the quarter.
Sensing the importance in the passage of play unfolding, the Copper Box crowd sprung to life with fans from both sides roaring encouragement to their teams.
A late flourish from the visitors saw England attempt a panicked response with time ticking down, the loss of ball proved vital as Fowler-Reid nailed a long-range effort to push Jamaica 31-27 clear.
The same seven took to the court for the second half as Tracey Neville gave the team the opportunity to wrestle back the lead.
As Jamaica continued with their physical style of play, a barrage of whistles against the Sunshine Girls allowed England to move the ball under the post to reduce the gap.
However, with the Roses desperately trying to force their way back in to the match, inaccurate passing and miscommunication started to cost England dear.
Whilst some around them lost theirs, the visitors kept their heads and coolly capitalised as the high ball tactic into Fowler-Reid reaped plentiful reward.
Beth Cobden was introduced at WD as Q3 came to a close and despite fresh energy bringing a spark to the home side, they trailed 42-49 moving into the final quarter.
The crowd welcomed back Natalie Haythornthwaite at the start of Q4 and the WA made an instant impact but almost for the wrong reasons.
The new recruit for Wasps Netball collected the ball and a hefty knock within thirty seconds of coming on. Encouraged by her teammates, Haythornthwaite returned to her feet and picked out Harten to score.
With re-shuffle in mid-court, Serena Guthrie reverted to WD and instantly put her defensive mastery to good effect.
Although England were afforded chances from turnover ball, on three separate occasions they failed to convert and with Fowler-Reid unflappable at the other end, an opening defeat was confirmed.
It was an impressive display from the visiting Sunshine Girls who used their physicality and athleticism to condone England to a heavy loss.
The Roses have the chance to avenge defeat in the second fixture of the three-match Series in Manchester on Friday evening.
Roses starting 7: GS – Harten, GA – Corbin, WA – Guthrie, C – Clarke, WD – Agbeze, GD – Francis, GK – Beckford-Chambers
Jamaica starting 7: GS – Fowler-Reid, GA – Beckford, WA – K.Williams, C – Thompson, WD – V.Williams, GD – Facey, GK – Sterling
Harten – 33/36 – 92%
Corbin – 14/19 – 74%
Cardwell – 2/2 – 100%
Fowler-Reid – 49/56 – 88%
Beckford – 17/20 – 85%