The Vitality Roses narrowly missed out on the Vitality Netball Nations Cup final after a 66-70 defeat to the Jamaica Sunshine Girls.
Jess Thirlby’s side trailed by 13 goals heading into the final quarter but, roared on by a vociferous crowd at the Copper Box Arena, they delivered an impressive fourth-quarter display and only just fell short.
The Vitality Roses will now face the South Africa SPAR Proteas at 14:30 on Sunday 26 January for the bronze medal.
Jade Clarke; England’s most capped player, got things started with the first centre pass of the game and Eleanor Cardwell capitalised on the Vitality Roses’ possession by sinking the first goal.
Jamaica responded in kind with both teams going goal for goal in the first four minutes of the game, that was until the Sunshine Girls broke the streak with sharp shooting from captain Jhaniele Fowler.
Strong defensive pressure from Kate Shimmin and Stacey Francis meant England were able to maximise on some missed opportunities by the Sunshine Girls, but despite a strong start for England it was Jamaica that crept out in front in the last few minutes, leaving the score at the end of quarter one at 15-18.
Thirlby switched things up heading into the second quarter, bringing Chelsea Pitman on as WA and moving Natalie Haythornthwaite to GA, meaning Kadeen Corbin stepped off court.
Jamaica continued to open up their lead throughout the captivating quarter, with England working hard to stay hot on their heels.
Rising star Amy Carter was brought into the mix at WA a few minutes before the quarter came to a close.
The end of the first half saw the Sunshine Girls keep the upper hand with the score set at 31-39.
A sold-out crowd at the Copper Box Arena welcomed the Vitality Roses back on court with a deafening roar for the second half, which saw Carter move to C, Clarke move to WD and Pitman come back on as WA.
Haythornthwaite and Cardwell showed great dynamism in the shooting circle but Fowler appeared unstoppable at the other end adding more goals to the Sunshine Girls’ tally.
The fierce third quarter came to a close with Jamaica leading 44-57, despite Thirlby making a strategic change in the defending end with Razia Quashie coming on as GK.
England refused to relent in the final 15 minutes, which saw George Fisher come on as GS, Cardwell move to GA and Haythornthwaite move to WA.
Fisher kept her cool and sunk a number of goals in quick succession, closing the gap between the two sides, which had Roses fans on their feet inside the arena.
Despite leaving everything out on the court in a gutsy fightback, the thrilling encounter saw the Roses just miss out on the final, losing 66-70.
England starting seven: Eleanor Cardwell (GS), Kadeen Corbin (GA), Natalie Haythornthwaite (WA), Jade Clarke (C), Laura Malcolm (WD), Kate Shimmin (GD), Stacey Francis (GK)
Jamaica starting seven: Jhaniele Fowler (GS), Shanice Beckford (GA), Khadijah Williams (WA), Nicole Dixon (C), Shadian Hemmings (WD), Shamera Sterling (GD), Kadie-Ann Dehaney (GK)