Spurs looking to hold off Orchids
Manchester Spurs are aiming to thwart a mighty challenge from St Ann Orchids in their Berger Elite League netball clash at Leila Robinson Courts today, beginning at 5p.m.
The match in Netball Jamaica's semi-professional competition, is the first of a triple bill, which has defending champions Kingston Hummingbirds lining up against Clarendon Gaters at 6:30 p.m. and a 7:45 p.m. closer, involving St. Catherine Racers and St James Sharpes.
"We can't underestimate any team right now. We're not going to take them lightly because they're fighting for a position to make the semi-finals, so I expect them to come out gunning from first whistle," observed Connie Francis, head coach of Manchester Spurs.
"Since we've already qualified we really don't want our team to take them lightly because they're more than capable of beating us," added Francis.
Manchester Spurs lead the standings with 21 points from eight matches and already have a semi-final place. St. Ann Orchids are third on 10 points from seven matches and are in a three-way tussle with Clarendon Gaters (nine points) and St Catherine Racers (seven points) for the remaining two semi-final spots.
"We need to ensure that we put out our best performance from here on, to be consistent with our output on court as from here on every game is going to be like a grand final to us," said Kevan 'Shawn' Murdock, assistant coach of St Ann Orchids.
Today's clash is the first of back-to-back engagements between the Orchids and Spurs, who will clash again next Monday. The Orchids will complete a difficult run-up to the play-offs against Kingston Hummingbirds, who lie second on 18 points and are already through to the semis.
The Orchids were hampered without the services of Vangelee Williams, the Sunshine Girls vice-captain, and shooters Thristina Harwood and Rebekah Robinson. Harwood and Williams played last Tuesday and made their presence felt in a 58-49 win over St James Sharpes, where talented shooter Simone Gordon and live wire national mid-court player Adean Thomas also made valid contributions.
"We are pleased that we had our 10 registered players for our last game, that's the first in a long time, and we were able to secure a win. We can't celebrate as yet; we need to tick that win off and get our focus back on what we're doing in preparation for our clash with the current leaders, the Spurs, and ultimately the play-offs," said Murdock.
"Spurs are a good attacking team, possibly the best in the competition at this time, so in our match-up against them, we need to ensure that we start well and try not to chase them," Murdock added. "We are one of two teams to have beaten the Spurs in the past two seasons, so in the back of our minds we have that, we will have that in our pockets, that we have beaten them before and so we stand as good a chance as any other team to beat them on any given day, so we're looking forward to that clash with them."