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Will England claim victory over Jamaica's netballers?

ALL SQUARE: England and Jamaica have all to play for

THE FINAL match in the netball Test series between Jamaica and England on Wednesday (January 14) promises to be a cracker. The series is tied at 1-1 after two matches and to call a winner would be foolhardy.

Darkness descended over the Sunshine Girls in more ways than one on January 10 as England secured a 55-47 win to level the series.

In a remarkable set of events, the visitors were on top in the closing stages when, with one minute fifteen seconds left on the clock, the power failed inside the arena and the umpires were forced to declare the match as a result.

In truth an additional minute or so in the ice bath would have been a welcome relief for the ladies in red following a bruising, physical encounter against their hosts.

At one stage in the third quarter a contact on Jade Clarke sent her tumbling into co-captain Pamela Cookey who was forced off the court due to the clash of bodies. The Jamaican GD Vangelee Williams, who made the initial contact, was sent off for two goals following the incident.

The failing lights and fierce play do not deter from a wonderfully professional and composed England display which saw them bounce back from Saturday’s loss in fine style.

A few changes were made to starting seven with Stacey Francis taking the WD bib following a positive impact from the bench in the opening contest. Cookey was also given a start at GA with Agbeze starting at GD.

England flew out of the block and were applying the pressure across the court early on, the Jamaican were struggling to penetrate the away defence and it results in a flurry of converted turnovers to put the visitors 5-0 ahead early on.
In attack the ball was being handled with more care and the positive link-up play in the final third made sure that
England silenced a boisterous home crowd by leading 16-11 at the end of the opening fifteen minutes.

The good form continued into the second quarter as an unchanged England line-up went on the attack. Jo Harten was making clever drives into the circle and Clarke was on hand to find the star shooter and increase the lead.

With the away side taking control of the contest, Jamaica stepped up the energy levels and were ferociously throwing themselves into attempted tips and intercepts. England remained composed and took a 31-25 advantage into the half-time interval.

Eboni Beckford-Chambers replaced Geva Mentor for the third quarter with the latter having had a wonderful battle with the Sunshine Girls shooters in the opening half.

The home side started brightly at quickly closed the gap to three. With the crowd starting to ratchet up the noise levels, the passion overflowed. Williams bundled into Clarke and England had a player advantage.

They made excellent work of the numerical gain and kept cool heads to extend the lead once again. England were showing their grit and guts as Kadeen Corbin slotted into GA and linked fabulously with Harten to make the score 43-34 at the end of Q3.

Tiring legs meant that the quality of play faltered in the final quarter with turnovers coming at regular intervals. England remained in control and looked dangerous in possession as at one stage they moved 12 goals clear.

A couple more injury time-outs disrupted the flow of the final quarter and with England on top the crowd were displeased. It was then a case of no likey, no lighty with a couple of minutes to go.

A power outage rather than an umpire’s whistle was to decide full-time in this contest as the arena was plunged into darkness. With no resolution in sight and visibility down to an all-time low, the umpires declared the game a result.

The sides meet for a third and final time on Wednesday morning UK time with the Series still up for grabs. England will be pleased with their performance last night and will be hoping to turn out the lights for good on Jamaica in two days’ time.

England starting 7: GS – Harten, GA – Cookey, WA – S.Corbin, C – Clarke, WD – Francis, GD – Agbeze, GK – Mentor

Jamaica starting 7: GS – Fowler-Reid, GA – Griffiths, WA – Henry, C – K.Williams, WD – V. Williams, GD – Facey, GK – Aiken-Pinnock

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