Mon | Sep 26, 2022

Sunshine Girls try to rebound after New Zealand hammering

Published:Thursday | September 22, 2022 | 12:09 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
Jamaica’s Jodi-Ann Ward (left) recovers a ball during the netball semi-final match against New Zealand on day nine of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games at NEC Arena on August 06 in England. Ward is one of a number of missing players from a depleted
Jamaica’s Jodi-Ann Ward (left) recovers a ball during the netball semi-final match against New Zealand on day nine of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games at NEC Arena on August 06 in England. Ward is one of a number of missing players from a depleted Sunshine Girls unit in New Zealand.

JAMAICA’S SUNSHINE Girls are set to face New Zealand Silver Ferns in the second game of their two-match series early this morning for the Tiani Jamison Trophy, with a vastly depleted squad and their backs against the wall.

Despite losing the first Test 70-45, and with the odds stacked against coach Connie Francis’ team for a victory in the second game, she insists they will try to make the best of the situation.

The Sunshine Girls only travelled to New Zealand with seven players, with five players unable to get their visas in time to travel with the group.

However, the team was able to add veteran Carla Borrego and Romelda Aiken-George, who reside in New Zealand and Australia, respectively, to the squad to increase the player pool to nine.

Nevertheless, Francis noted there was little that could have been done, and although it puts them in an awkward position, she insists they are there to play.

“We play New Zealand with seven players and we have at least one player that will play out of position.

“But what I like is that the girls are up for the task. They know the situation and they are going out there to give 110 per cent, and that I appreciate,” she said.

Playing New Zealand with an inexperienced squad and no possibility of making substitutions will make a victory unlikely.

However, as long as the players show character and give their all, Francis will be satisfied.

“For the Commonwealth Games we had all the players, and New Zealand wasn’t a walkover. So all I am looking for is experience and growth.

“We have a team that is very inexperienced, and we have the world number two team coming all guns blazing, after what we just did to them.

“We are here with a different team, but we are going to put our best foot forward,” she contends.

Having accepted that beating the Silver Ferns is likely to be tricky, Francis has now turned to using the games to assess players looking to claim a spot in next year’s World Cup squad.

“We will play and stay in the moment, and if the win comes we will grab it with two hands. But we are giving players who have not played at this level some vital experience and exposure they will need to make the final cut for the World Cup.

“It is going to be very difficult, but all I ask is that these girls give their best, and we are banking on our attacking players to give us some points,” she added.

Only three members of the Commonwealth silver medal-winning squad are a part of the team in New Zealand.

With World Netball stipulating that it takes 10 players to constitute an international team, Francis had to be registered as a player-coach in the first game, where the Silver Ferns ran out to a 21-10 early lead.

At the end of the second quarter, the game was probably over as a contest, as New Zealand enjoyed a 37-20 lead.

Things would only get worse for the visitors, who trailed 54-33 at the end of the third quarter, before finally being blasted away in the fourth to wind up 70-45 losers.

For the Jamaicans, Shimona Nelson, at goal shoot, converted 36 of her 41 attempts, while goal attack Gezelle Allison had nine from 14.

The two were well beaten by Silver Ferns goal shooter Grace Nweke, who had 59 goals from 63 attempts, while at goal attack, Te Paea Selby-Rickit had four from seven. Coming off the bench, Ameliaranne Ekenasio had a perfect seven goals from seven attempts.

The second and final game of the series tips off this morning at 2:00 am.

livingston.scott@gleanerjm.com

Sunshine Girls Squad

Shimona Nelson (c), Latanya Wilson, Gezelle Allison, Carla Borrego, Mischa Creary, Abbeygail Linton, Abigale Sutherland, Adean Thomas, Romelda Aiken-George, Connie Francis (player-coach).