CONCACAF Olympics qualifiers under way - St Kitts and Nevis hope to spring surprise

By Lance Whittaker July 17, 2019

St Kitts and Nevis target finishing above Jamaica in CONCACAF Olympic qualifiers.

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  • Jamaica Sunshine girls beat England, book New Zealand final showdown Jamaica Sunshine girls beat England, book New Zealand final showdown

    Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls booked a spot in the final of the Vitality Netball Nations Cup final following a 70-66 win over England Roses at the Copper Box Arena on Saturday.

    In another strong performance, the Jamaicans led wire to wire before eventually outpacing the slow-starting Roses who staged a furious fourth-quarter rally.  The win will see the Sunshine Girls taking on New Zealand for the title on Sunday.

    The Jamaicans started quickly, driving the ball up court with quick passes, the moves expertly finished off by a dominant Jhaniele Fowler-Reid.  Defensively, they managed to force the Roses into careless errors, approaching the first break with a 19-15 lead.

    In an attempt to shot down Fowler-Reid in the second quarter, England double-teamed the 6ft 6in phenom with defenders Stacey Francis and Kate Shimmin.  The Caribbean team, however, quickly switched the passes to goal attack Shanice Beckford, who finished just as effectively.  At halftime, the Jamaicans held a 39-31 lead.

    The Sunshine Girls looked to press their advantage soon after the resumption and held an 11-goal lead with 9 minutes of the third remaining and ended the period up 57-44 and seemingly set for a comfortable win.

    A furious fourth-quarter rally from the home team, however, made things seem far less academic as they clawed their way back to within a four-goal deficit.  The Jamaicans, however, held on to cross the finish line.

     

  • England will look to heap early pressure on Sunshine Girls insists Roses coach Thirlby England will look to heap early pressure on Sunshine Girls insists Roses coach Thirlby

    England Roses coach Jess Thirlby insists the team is clear on the approach to take in a crucial encounter against Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls, as the sides battle for a spot in the Vitality Netball Nations Cup final on Saturday.

    The Jamaicans started the competition in spectacular fashion with a big win over South Africa but experienced a set-back after a loss to the Silver Ferns.  The Roses also defeated SPAR Proteas but were also defeated by New Zealand.  The teams will now meet for a spot in the first-versus-second play-off match.

    Thirlby expects to put the Jamaicans under pressure from the opening whistle in the winner take all showdown.

    "We know what we need to do, we know we’re going to have to win the ball and pressure it early,” the coach told Sky Sports.

    "It's going to be a tough one against Jamaica but I'm really looking forward to the fact that we have put ourselves in that position [winner-takes-all] on Saturday," she added.

    "Coming into the tournament I said that, ideally, we want to get into these finals, and we have every opportunity to do so now.  It's going to be tough with that height in the back, but South Africa pushed them the other day. Everyone was a bit critical of us against New Zealand, but you saw the margin between the Silver Ferns and Jamaica (26 goals) so I think it's game on.”

     

     

     

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