Francis pleased with Sunshine Girls win - Jamaicans beat South Africa in quad nation series opener
National senior netball captain Jhaniele Fowler produced a strong performance to guide the Sunshine Girls to a close 59-54 victory over South Africa in their opening match of the four-nation Vitality Netball Nations Cup in Nottingham, England yesterday.
Fowler, who is rated as the best goal shooter in the world, netted an almost-perfect 46 goals from 47 attempts for the Jamaicans.
The victory was sweet revenge for the Sunshine Girls, who were beaten 55-52 by South Africa at the Netball World Cup last July.
Fowler received support from goal attack Shanice Beckford, who netted 12 goals from 14 attempts, while Shimona Nelson scored one goal from her lone try.
The Sunshine Girls, who dominated the match from the opening whistle, led 33-28 at half-time and 49-37 at the end of the third quarter.
Vice-captain Nicole Dixon, who had an excellent game for the Sunshine Girls, was voted the MVP of the match.
Speaking from the team’s base in Nottingham yesterday, head coach Connie Francis told The Gleaner that she was delighted with the team’s performance.
“It is a good way to start the competition because coming into a championships like this and playing against good teams with just three months of preparations, I am really pleased for the victory,” said Francis.
“I thought it was a good, gutsy performance, and I just hope that we will be able to sustain what we have started,” she added.
The vastly experienced coach singled out the team’s protection of the ball as a major factor in their success.
“It was about taking care of the ball and making stops, and so I was really proud of the girls because our defenders made stops, unlike the South Africans, who were unable to make interceptions against us,” Francis said.
“I thought that the girls were confident going into this match because this bunch is very close- knit and everything that they are doing is all about netball, and so the confidence level is up,” she said.
The Sunshine Girls are set to face world champions New Zealand in their next game in the tournament on Wednesday and Francis underlines that they are now looking forward to this contest.