Mon | Jan 17, 2022

Francis rues defensive frailties in first test defeat

Published:Friday | December 3, 2021 | 12:06 AMDaniel Wheeler/Staff Reporter
Sunshine Girl Nicole Dixon-Rochester.
Sunshine Girl Nicole Dixon-Rochester.
National senior women’s netball team head coach Connie Francis.
National senior women’s netball team head coach Connie Francis.
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National senior women’s netball team head coach Connie Francis has called for an improved defensive display from the Sunshine Girls to give themselves a chance of levelling their three-match test series with England.

Jamaica were beaten 55-45 by the Roses in the first game on Sunday at the Copper Box Arena in London after leading 26-25 at the break. Francis held belief in her team’s ability to adjust in situations, particularly on the defensive end. However, England controlled the last two quarters, outshooting the Jamaicans 30-19 to take the 1-0 lead in the series.

For Francis, their second-half display lacked the sharpness in being able to maintain the offensive and defensive display.

“In the second half of the game, it wasn’t only attacking that went flat, but our defence also went flat,” she told The Gleaner. “It’s about getting the mindset right and pushing to do the small things better.”

It was turnovers, particular in the third quarter, that gave Jamaica difficulty, which England capitalised on to close out the game.

Additionally, Francis said that they suffered from their defensive charges not producing in critical moments and the timidness of their play, which she said was because of those who have not played consistently.

WORK IN PROGRESS

“We brought in some fresh legs and it didn’t work out for us,” she said. “It also comes down to trusting each other to let go of the ball. Some of our players are being more tentative and I said the players that have been tentative are the ones that haven’t played for almost two years. But they are still a work in progress.

“We expected our defending line-up that has been actually playing (regularly), that they needed to step up some more and push forward. Because I thought that even when we made changes in the defensive area, it didn’t work for us.”

It is an area that has been the focus of the Sunshine Girls’ preparations for the second test at Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham at 11 a.m. Jamaica time tomorrow, where they will look to avoid a series defeat to England for the first time in eight years. Francis says how they approach each phase of the quarter will be critical to avoiding a similar breakdown.

“We are on the right path but it’s about how we grow from the first game into the second,” she said. “We have taken it slowly but ensuring that we will be a force to be reckoned with through that 60 minutes of the game.”