Jamaica win netball silver and a legion of new fans

CLASSY netballers from JAMAICA won the silver medal at the Commonwealth Games after a titanic fight with Australia on Sunday night.

Although there was initial disappointment, the Caribbean team were the team of the tournament and won a legion of new fans despite a 55-51 defeat at the NEC in Birmingham.

The money, on the nation’s independence weekend, was an award for the “Sunshine Girls” who lit up the netball tournament.

It was Jamaica’s first-ever Commonwealth Games final as Australia played their seventh in a row. In the end, experience told. Winning netball gold marked the Australians’ 1000th gold medal.

The Caribbean team boasts world-class players and has clearly seen the benefits of some of them playing the game in Australia, considered the quality hub of the sport.

Jamaica beat the world’s best in Birmingham, they beat Australia in their final pool game and then put world champions New Zealand to the epee in the semi-finals.

In many ways, Jamaica’s belief that they could win Commonwealth gold came through when they hammered neighbors Barbados by a stunning 103-24 margin. Their desire in the closing stages of this game was clear. They never lost it afterwards.

The final was a great advertisement for the sport. It ebbed and flowed and made the heart flutter throughout.

First blood and the goal went to the Aussies, but Jamaica’s inspirational leader and goalkeeper Jhaniele Fowler-Reid hit back immediately.

Part of the game was hypnotic on both sides. It was also a physical encounter with no quarter given. Mistakes were rare, but rather it was the Aussies who made them early on. However, with the big nerves of the night away, the team in green then activated the style and raced ahead. Gutsy Jamaica fought back and the first fifteen minutes ended 14-12 against Australia.

Jamaican striker Shanice Beckford opened the scoring early in the second quarter. She leveled the game moments later. 14-14.

Then it was the Australians’ turn and goalkeeper Gretel Bueta showed her incredible skills in front of goal.

POPULAR: The Jamaican outfit lit up the tournament

The Sunshine Girls took the lead, 18-17, thanks to Fowler-Reid and the Jamaican pro arena went wild! Jamaica was now in the lead and looked good. At one point, they were leading 22-18.

The Australians came back in force to regain the lead. A simply devastating quarterback finished 29-all.

The third quarter changed the game. Australia scored the opening goal and ran ahead 32-29. They pushed the throttle even further and the score was now 37-30. The match moved away from Jamaica as the women in green then took a 39-30 lead in the blink of an eye.

With minutes to go, the Australians were ten up and looking good for the gold medal. He was now 45-39 with just fifteen minutes left.

Australia scored the opener and possession was the name of the game at this stage. Jamaica gave it their all, but Australian craftsmanship was evident, finding spaces on the pitch and blind-eyed when it came to trying their luck.

Jamaica never gave up and continued to recover the score. With five minutes left the score was 52-46 and the Aussies were almost there.

The end of the match saw Australia celebrate while Jamaica came up short in an epic game that saw both teams promote netball in the best possible way.

Jamaica: Jhaniele Fowler, Shanice Beckford, Khadijah Williams, Nicole Dixon-Rochester, Jodi-Ann Ward, Latanya Wilson, Shamera Sterling

Subs: Shimona Nelson, Adean Thomas, Rebekah Robinson, Shadian Hemmings, Kadie-ann Dehaney

Coach: Connie Francis

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