Sunshine Girls advance after nail-biting win
Jamaica's Sunshine Girls registered a nail-biting 34-33 victory over Australia to secure their place in the semi-finals of the three-day World Fast5 Netball Series in Auckland, New Zealand, yesterday.
The Girls pulled off the win when they needed it most, having made their campaign tricky for themselves by losing to South Africa on Friday's opening game.
The Australians, who have been one of the disappointments of the tournament, were in a position to wipe away Jamaica's top-four aspirations and they nearly achieved the upset.
A tight tussle was seen in the first quarter as neither sides managed to land a two or three pointer in the period. It was a battle of the goal shoots as Australia's Karyn Howarth and Jamaica's Jhanielle Fowler both shot seven from seven and eight from eight, respectively. The scores were locked at 8-8 at the end of the first period.
The match was starting to look like a carbon copy of Australia's previous four losses.
There was poor passing in midcourt and a lack of drive throughout. Jamaica began to take control and were more aggressive in the final third.
Fowler netted five goals from six attempts including a long-range three pointer on the stroke of the half to give the Sunshine Girls a deserved 18-14 lead.
However, Australia did a fantastic job of not letting Jamaica's powerplay destroy their chances of their first win. They managed to not give up any two or three pointers and reduced Jamaica to only five goals. Jamaica led 28-19 after three quarters.
With Australia now in the powerplay and ultimately only playing for pride, the Diamonds dug in to reduce the deficit to set up a fantastic finish.
When Howarth levelled the score at 33-33, Jamaica had 30 seconds to create a chance.
A contact call against Diamond defender April Letton was blown by the umpire, however, Fowler took the shot and got it in. She was forced to take it again, knowing that the weight of the team making it through to the semi-finals was on her shoulders. Luckily, she was able to land the winning goal at the second attempt as the Jamaicans won the game.
Jamaica's head coach Oberon Pitterson-Nattie was pleased with her team's performance.
"It wasn't pretty this win but a win's a win," said Pitterson-Nattie.
"I've been saying from home that this tournament is a tournament that is up for grabs and throughout the two days it has proven that it is so," Pitterson-Nattie added.
The Sunshine Girls were beaten 39-28 by England in their fourth game of the championships. The semi-finals and finals were scheduled to take place last night Jamaica time.