Orchids, Gaters showdown in Elite League
Defending champions St Ann Orchids will be chasing an important win against Clarendon Gaters when the teams meet in the feature match of today's Berger Elite League double-header at Leila Robinson Courts, which is set to begin at 7:30 p.m.
St Catherine Racers and St James Sharpes will play the opening match, which is set to begin at 6 p.m.
With the race narrowing for a semi-final spot in Netball Jamaica's premier championship, third-placed Orchids aim to strengthen their advantage. They now have six points, half as much as joint leaders Manchester Spurs and Kingston Hummingbirds. St Catherine Racers and St James Sharpes are next with three points, while the Gaters are bottom after four consecutive losses.
"A victory tomorrow is very important," admitted Shawn Murdock, assistant coach of the Orchids. "It's a short season, and we're getting to the business end. The more points we secure now, the greater our chances of making the top four.
"As it stands now, apart from the top two the other places are up for grabs. Winning the three points will improve our chances and confidence of getting into the play-offs," Murdock analysed.
Leading the defending champions' charge will be shooters Thristina Harwood and Rebekah Robinson, plus their national teammates Adean Thomas, Vangelee Williams and Stacian Facey.
EXPECTING TOUGHER GAME
The Orchids won their opening-day clash 58-34, but Murdock expects a difference.
"I suspect it will be a tougher game than the first encounter at the start of the season. The Gaters should have all their players," he noted.
That sentiment is shared by Gaters' head coach, Dalton Hinds.
"In our first game, we were without our two shooters," Hinds said in relation to Shedeiky Hamilton-Barnes and Shadian Hemmings.
Hinds pointed to other inconsistencies affecting his unlucky squad, which lost two of their matches by one goal.
"The essence of it is we've been having some strong starts and some close games. These games are games naturally that you have to be consistent throughout as all the teams are evenly matched," he assessed, highlighting the fact that they led for much of the way in two matches.
"We've been having those discussions in training that we really need to win. I think we have a pretty decent team. All the teams are balanced, so you have to end as good as you start," added Hinds.
Besides Hamilton-Barnes and Hemmings, St Ann Orchids' squad includes Zonasha Hinds, Kerry-Ann Brown, Althea Byfield and Kay-Ann Cousins.