Both sides had won three times at the M&S Bank Arena prior to this one and had played each other three times at World Cups in the past, with Jamaica winning all of those encounters.
While Jamaica did conclude their tournament with a victory, this was always going to be their lowest finish at a World Cup since 1995 no matter the outcome here thanks to previous results earlier in the week.
Heading into the game, they were disappointed not to have continued their record of playing in the last five bronze medal matches, including in Sydney in 2015, though their 100% record in games against Malawi continued.
It was not long into the first quarter that Jamaica put down a marker, proving that they were determined to finish as high as possible in the competition despite not matching previous achievements.
Goal shooter Jhaniele Fowler of Jamaica, who turns 30 today, opened the scoring after 14 seconds, finding space inside the circle and clinically dispatching a clean shot – the perfect start on her birthday.
It wasn’t long before Fowler has plenty more reasons to celebrate as she and her team scored another 19 goals in the first quarter.
Her opposite number, the agile goal shooter of Malawi, Joyce Mvula, was picked out prior to the tournament as being one to watch. She, too, was heavily involved, but Malawi scored seven fewer times than their opponents to trail 20-13 at the 15-minute mark.
The first quarter, though, was not telling as to how the match would unfold, as Jamaica were made to work hard for their win.
Malawi pulled the scoreline back to 22-21 momentarily as they looked like overhauling their disadvantage before Jamaica slowed the onslaught. Malawi did draw level first at 24-24 and then 25-25, but the Sunshine Girls ended the quarter strongly, heading in for half-time leading 37-28.
That second quarter was a more reliable gauge for how the second half of the match would pan out, with Malawi looking threatening early on, before they ultimately succumbed to defeat.
The third quarter saw Jamaica increase their lead in the match overall once again as they conceded early on, only to go on and score 15 goals of their own. With just 15 minutes to play, they were almost there in terms of the result, leading by 11.
Both Jane Chimaliro and Thandie Galleta of Malawi were playing their 50th match for their country, but they did not earn the win that they would have wanted to mark that milestone.
Jamaica won the final quarter, too, by 16 goals to nine, winning the match by 18 overall. Following a tournament in which they set out to achieve a little bit more, the win was a welcome end to their campaign as Fowler and co. celebrated a closing-day victory.
Jamaica’s Jhaniele Fowler said of her birthday win:
“(To win today) was an ok present – I didn’t want that, I wanted a medal for my birthday, but unfortunately, I got fifth.
“We had a few turnovers which caused Malawi to come back, but fortunately, we got ahead. As a leader, things will happen and we have to stand tall. You have to be the one who does the best that they can do to the best of their ability.
“A lot of things caused us to perform and be where we are at the moment. Hopefully, we can fix those and change those things.”
Their 77-47 victory over the Zim Gems means they will participate in the fifth-place play-off against the winners of the all-African clash between Malawi and Uganda later today.
Not since 1995 have Jamaica missed out on a semi-final place, and they will be keen to claim fifth to avoid matching their previous worst previous in the tournament – sixth in 1967.
Zimbabwe, who have delighted their appreciative fans with several victories in their maiden Netball World Cup, will rightly be proud to be contesting the seventh place play-off match.
Jamaica fielded a strong starting line-up, albeit electing to begin with Shamera Sterling on the bench. Both sides began nervously, overthrowing passes in the first minute, however Jhaniele Fowler opened the scoring with a brace.
Zimbabwe soon closed, and were able to stay on Jamaica’s tail as both attacks looked in good form. Ursula Ndlovu was unlucky to just run out of court after making a good run into space, and Fowler took advantage of the turnover in possession to push the score out to 14-8.
Pauline Jani was doing her level best to keep Zimbabwe in touch at the other end, and in a role reversal in the Jamaican shooting circle, Shanice Beckford then took the spotlight away from Fowler as her three consecutive goals pushed the lead out further, with Jamaica 23-15 ahead after the first quarter.
The second quarter started with a rarity, as Romelda Aiken fumbled a pass. Jamaica shook this off though, and continued to move the ball with fluency, extending the lead to 18.
A feature of this phase of play was Aiken’s ability to get to the rebounds first after the unlucky Beckford saw shots bounce out. Even when Aiken was wayward, Zimbabwean passes weren’t finding their target, and Jamaica closed out the half well on top – 47-24 ahead.
Jamaica continued to build in the second half, however Ndlovu did remarkably well to keep the ball in play and cut the score to 54-29.
The deficit was down still further after the Sunshine Girls overthrew the ball, and the joyous Zimbabwe fans’ continuous encouragement from the stands inspired their team to bring the score back to 57-36.
Sterling – by now on as a substitute – was being characteristically effective in defence, however Zimbabwean passes were now sticking and shots were finding their target. Aiken’s off-balance miss as the quarter ended meant that – much to the delight of their fans – Zimbabwe won the quarter 14-12.
Jamaica still held a commanding lead though, and they moved 64-40 ahead early in the fourth. A spectacularly dominant quarter followed, as Aiken and Rebekah Robinson scored 18 between them to put a gloss on the final scoreline: 77-47.
Despite the result though, Zimbabwe were as joyous in defeat as they have previously been in victory, and their dance off court – during which they were joined by several Jamaican players – captured even more hearts for a nation who have truly embraced their first World Cup.
Zimbabwe’s Felisitus Kwangwa said:
“I’m really impressed with our performance today. Against the world number two it’s quite difficult, and as you can see, against them, our team is vertically challenged! But I’m really impressed.”
Jamaica’s Stacian Facey said:
“It was a very physical game. We knew that Zimbabwe would be physical but we came prepared for that. Our team is filled with speed, and I think that we matched up quite well with them.”
While both teams remain in contention to finish fifth in the competition, this result means that Jamaica play Zimbabwe and Uganda face Malawi to qualify for that fifth-place play-off.
Fans hoping to see a battle between two of the world’s best goal shooters – Fowler and the She Cranes’ Peace Proscovia – will have been disappointed as Proscovia was left on the bench and Stella Oyella started under the posts.
It was, naturally, Fowler who opened the scoring, as Jamaica surged into an early lead. Oyella got off the mark as Uganda trailed 4-2, and she was in the thick of the action as her side levelled proceedings up at 6-6.
A sudden burst by Jamaica then saw them establish a three-goal advantage – a margin which they pushed out further to lead 13-9 at the end of the first quarter.
Fowler continued her impressive form in front of goal in the second corner, profiting from a Stacian Facey interception to help extend the lead to six.
The Ugandan contingent in the crowd then got their wish as Proscovia entered the court, and she was immediately on the score sheet to make the score 18-10.
When Lillian Ajio’s bounce pass was grabbed by a yellow vest the lead when out to 10, with Fowler remaining the only Jamaican to have had a shot. It was the Sunshine Girls’ goal number 29 which finally brought a different name to the scoresheet, with Romelda Aiken netting.
With 14 goals now the difference, Uganda were having difficulty in picking out their star forward. When she had the chance, Oyella missed, but there were no such mistakes from Fowler, who took the score out to 34-18.
Shanice Beckford came on for the Jamaicans and unlike Aiken, made her presence immediately count on the scoreboard. Oyella fumbled a bounce pass and Jamaica entered the changing rooms at half time with a healthy 35-20 lead.
Jamaica wasted their first centre pass of the second half, allowing Racheal Nanyonga and Proscovia reducing the deficit by two. The mini Ugandan revival was followed by more good news for the She Cranes, as Fowler was substituted. Unfortunately for Uganda, she’d already done the damage, netting 38 times from 39 attempts.
Proscovia brought up Uganda’s 30th goal with a shot that took and age to drop, and an improved quarter from the She Cranes saw them lose the 15-minute spell by just two, meaning that Jamaica’s overall lead was 51-34.
A looped pass early in the fourth quarter saw Jamaica extend their lead to 53-34. However this would turn out to be the Ugandans’ best quarter of the game, with Proscovia maintaining her 100% record as she helped bring down the Sunshine Girls’ winning margin, as the match finished at 61-48.
Tomorrow, Jamaica they face another African side in Malawi, while Uganda face Zimbabwe as all four teams try to keep alive hopes of a top-five finish.
Uganda’s Peace Proscovia said:
“It’s definitely not the result we wanted, but there were lots of positives to take. With Uganda still being an up-and-coming country in netball, we are pleased with our performance – it is a step up.”
Their eventual 67-36 victory ensures some pride is regained for the Sunshine Girls, although the scoreline and their performance will also give great heart to the Scots..
Both sides started strongly, but an early injury to Shanice Beckford disrupted Jamaica’s rhythm. Scotland were neck and neck with their opponents – ranked number two in the world – throughout the early stages, and it then got even better for Gail Parata’s side.
An overthrown pass meant the Thistles missed their first chance to take the lead, but Lynsey Gallagher made no mistake with the second. Emma Barrie popped one in and Scotland were 12-10 ahead, a margin of advantage which they retained until the closing stages of the quarter, when Jhaniele Fowler brought Jamaica back to within one at 14-13.
Regardless, the impressive scoreline gave Scotland a rare quarter-win against the Sunshine Girls.
Fowler brought the scores level in the second quarter, before both sides surrendered their next possession. Fowler – at the second time of asking – regained the lead for the Sunshine Girls, making it 15-14.
Both sides were loose in passing, before Fowler’s accuracy carved out a three-goal lead. Scotland’s inability to retain possession was beginning to prove costly, and substitute Rebekah Robinson was starting to fire, extending the difference to six goals.
Good work by Gallagher was appreciated by the Scots in the M&S Bank Arena crowd, as she registered to make the score 24-18. However, Romelda Aiken was then deployed from the bench for Jamaica, who continued to pull away from their determined opponents, and ended the half 32-21 up.
Unsurprisingly, it was Fowler on target again for the first score of the second half. An Aiken miss left the goal post shaking, but normal service was soon resumed as Jamaica pushed 36-22 ahead.
Scotland were still finding it difficult to retain the ball, and the yellow dresses of the Jamaican players were swarming about the court with renewed purpose, which allowed them to net the next four goals.
Despite a double Thistles substitution, they continued to slip further behind, with the lead extending out to 20. Jamaica goal keeper Shamera Sterling was proving a disruptive force to the Scotland attack on many occasions, not allowing the Thistles attackers any easy ball.
Niamh McCall produced a fine leaping interception, but Jamaica were now into their stride, and had the final say in the quarter, having established a 50-26 lead, with Fowler on target 40 times.
Jamaica coach Marvette Anderson switched things around in the fourth quarter, giving game time to all her squad. The first six goals were shared equally, before a misplaced Aiken pass allowed Scotland to narrow the gap slightly.
The Sunshine Girls came back to win the quarter 17-10, though, and with it the game, 67-36.
Scotland coach Gail Parata:
“We came out today hoping we might be able to surprise Jamaica in that first quarter and get the lead. We debated whether to risk players, because the game we really want is Trinidad and Tobago (tomorrow), but we thought we’d see how the first quarter went, and we were delighted to be in front.
“In the second quarter we knew they’d up their game, and we couldn’t keep pace with them. The Jamaican team that we know – the speed and the flair they have – came out in the second and third quarters, but I was pleased with our finish too.”
Despite the faultless shooting of Jhaniele Fowler, England produced an exceptional third quarter which powered them towards a 56-48 victory.
England started quickly – profiting from two early turnovers of possession to take a 4-1 advantage. Great work from Jo Harten set up Helen Housby to convert a rebound to stretch that lead out still further to 8-2, and that margin was maintained until Housby was penalised for footwork in the circle.
That triggered a Jamaican comeback, with Fowler excelling as the Sunshine Girls got back to within a single goal. However, Housby made no mistake with an opportunity in the final seconds of the quarter which restored the hosts’ two-goal cushion at the end of the first 15 minutes – 14-12.
The atmosphere inside the M&S Bank Arena went up a notch as the teams re-entered the court for the second quarter, and Eboni Usoro-Brown – making her 100th international appearance – responded with a great piece of defending to win back possession for the hosts. Following that, England stretched their lead back out to four, but once again, Fowler’s strength and composure in the circle ensured Jamaica found a way back.
The Sunshine Girls took the lead for the first time since the opening stages with five minutes of the half remaining, but wonderful work by first Guthrie then Geva Mentor wrestled momentum back for England. As in the first half, Housby had the ball in her hands as the clocked ticked down to end the quarter, and once again she made no mistake to give England back their two-goal advantage – 28-26.
England carried on that impetus with a blistering start to the third quarter, stretching their lead out to five.
Jamaica, however, again came back, with their defence put increasing amounts of pressure on England’s attack and slowing proceedings down. Adean Thomas at centre was competing readily with the inspired Guthrie as the Sunshine Girls brought the score back to 34-32.
Via improved shooting from Harten and one particularly impressive piece of play from Jade Clarke, though, England again began to build a lead. Sloppy play from Jamaica and increased space in the circle for Harten and Housby saw England race into a 36-44 lead at the end of the third quarter, a period of the game which would turn out to be decisive.
The Roses came out of the blocks fastest in the final quarter, with three goals, but the Sunshine Girls matched that almost instantly; the speed at which the Jamaicans transitioned play showed their remaining belief that they could still overturn the deficit.
However, the irrepressible Guthrie seemed forever on hand to quash Jamaican hopes, finding turnover ball in seemingly impossible situations.
She and her team-mates were applauded off by a rapturous Liverpool crowd at the final whistle, after their 56-48 win edged them closer to the semi-finals and put Jamaica’s final four hopes in real doubt.
Jhaniele Fowler, Jamaican goal shooter and captain said:
“To be honest, the expectations were great and we have a talented team, but talented teams also finish last sometimes so I guess we have to fight hard to come back again.”
Serena Guthrie, England captain and Player of the Match, said:
“Obviously we’re very pleased. They’re a tough team and we knew we were going to be in for one hell of a game and it was that. It was a high quality game and it was probably our first real test so to come off after what is our fourth game in a row, having put in a performance like that, I think we can take a lot of confidence from that going forwards.”
In what was the game of the tournament so far, the Proteas edged a feisty and entertaining encounter.
Pundits tipped the match to be a closely-fought and tense encounter, and that was exactly how it panned out with an end-to-end, entertaining game in store for those inside the M&S Bank Arena to savour.
Both sides had beaten Trinidad and Tobago and Fiji – the other two members of Group C – over the course of the last two days, but this decider was always going to be the toughest match for both in the Preliminaries Stage One.
South Africa, who are currently ranked fifth in the world, had only ever beaten Jamaica – who are behind only Australia in the world rankings – once at a World Cup, losing four times previously.
It was they who struck first, through goal shooter Lenize Potgieter, though Jamaica were quick to reply with a goal of their own.
With top spot on the line, the first quarter began at a frantic speed. South African goal attack Maryka Holtzhausen lacked precision in front of the net as she converted only half of her 10 attempts, but despite that, her side edged in front.
That lead was largely gained thanks to the clinical Potgieter, who scored each of her 11 shots. Only timely defending from Jamaican goalkeeper Shamera Sterling, winning cap number 34 for her country, prevented her from scoring more.
As the whistle blew for the end of an intense first quarter, South Africa led by five goals, with the scoreline standing at 16-9.
As the match progressed, the quickness of world-class movement and speed of play from both sides showed no signs of lapsing; if anything, it was set to increase.
Driven forward by centre Adean Thomas, Jamaica attempted to cut the deficit and looked set to successfully do so with a strong eight-minute spell.
South Africa, though, ended the half strongly, heading in for the break 32-21 in front, their advantage deservedly extended to 11 goals.
Bongiwe Msomi, who became the third South African player to reach a century of international appearances yesterday in the Proteas’ victory over Fiji, saw much of the ball in the first half of the game, but her influence waned during the third quarter as Jamaica threatened a comeback.
Jamaican goalkeeper Sterling clashed off the ball with South African goal shooter Potgieter as the game began to simmer. The bumping of chests between the pair was a sign of the heightened emotions that come in an end-to-end match of such significance.
The halt in play to sort out the disagreement, however, did not knock Jamaica out of their stride. Rather, they continued to push on in search of more goals required to close the gap.
Pushed on by an ever-more-vocal crowd, they won the third quarter 17-10, fired forward by goal shooter Jhaniele Fowler’s 96% proficiency in front of goal, cutting the difference in scoreline to just four to set up an exciting finish.
The final quarter was the most frantic of all, with Jamaica pushing closer and closer to overhauling the deficit, ultimately falling just short.
They drew level with 10 minutes remaining in the game before Potgieter dragged her side back in front once again with a cool finish under the pressure of the game and an opposing defender.
Back and forth the momentum swung as Jamaica levelled twice, only for South Africa to pull ahead once again at the last, showing grit and steel to deal a hammer blow of their own.
A three-goal lead with seven minutes remaining momentarily became two with six minutes left on the clock, but that was the tightest the scoreline got in the closing stages.
Jamaica won the final quarter 14-13 – but were still three goals short overall. South Africa’s lead, garnered over the course of the first half, was just about sufficient for them to edge over the line as they remained – just about – in front.
The standing ovation for both sides after a sensational match-up was thoroughly deserved.
South Africa’s Lenize Potgieter said:
“It’s an amazing feeling – you have no idea! To beat the number two side in the world, to be in a team that never gives up – we were up by quite a few and then almost equal, but we just kept on fighting. I’m proud of everyone – super proud of coaches, players, supporters. I can’t explain this feeling!
“The atmosphere was amazing. When the scores were level the crowd were on their feet. That’s a game that people want to watch!
“I think we are able to beat anyone in the world. It’s just about staying together, having honest conversations and not taking them personally. I think we’re strong enough to take a medal at this competition but we don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves.”
What looked to be a keenly-contested game was turned on its head in the second quarter when Jamaica came out firing on all cylinders, scoring 16 unanswered goals, and from then on the result was never in question.
Both coaches elected to make several changes to their starting line-ups from their opening World Cup matches. Jamaica had the luxury of being able to rest players following their comfortable victory over Fiji, while Trinidad and Tobago were in search of their first win following their disappointing defeat to South Africa.
Trinidad and Tobago squandered first use of the ball allowing Jhaniele Fowler to fire Jamaica into an early two-goal lead. Her opposite goal shooter Samantha Wallace had a shot to equalise, but it bounced off the rim. Jamaica took full advantage of the reprieve, carving out a 9-5 scoreline.
Fowler was in tremendous form but jarred her head when reaching for the pass that would lead to her eleventh goal. An interception from Stacian Facey took the score to 16-12, but Trinidad and Tobago suddenly clicked into gear to move within a single goal. The Sunshine Girls completed the scoring in the first quarter to hold a narrow 17-15 advantage.
In the second quarter, good work along the touchline saw Shanice Beckford maintain her 100% shooting record. Jamaica monopolised possession, scoring the next seven goals and establishing a 23-15 advantage. The Calypso Girls simply could not keep hold of the ball, and the deadly duo of Fowler and Beckford continued to pile on the agony with unanswered goals. Finally a red dress, in the form of Wallace, scored but by then the damage had been done, with Trinidad and Tobago having conceded 16 unanswered goals and looking at trying reverse a 36-18 deficit.
Trinidad and Tobago’s defensive difficulties were illustrated when Jamaica overthrew a pass out of bounds, but still managed to score next. By this time Jamaica were looking comfortable with a 42-21 cushion, although Trinidad and Tobago did add the final two goals of the half.
A couple of interceptions meant that Jamaica renewed their assault on the net, scoring the first four goals of the third quarter. This time, Trinidad and Tobago were able to make a positive contribution at the other end, but Jamaica’s lead continued to grow.
Rebekah Robinson, on in place of Beckford, extended the lead to 24, before Romelda Aiken assumed goal shooting duties from Fowler. Her initial shot from under the net hit the rim, but there was no mistake with the rebound. Both sides continued to trade goals, moving the score along to 57-34 at the end of the third quarter.
Trinidad and Tobago made good use of the initial centre pass in the fourth quarter and an interception meant they reduced the deficit to twenty. Robinson, only firing at 50% accuracy, took the score to 60-38, before Aiken pushed the Jamaicans out to 23 goals ahead.
Trinidad and Tobago kept pressing, but overthrown passes once again saw them squander possession, before the final goal of the encounter summed up the match: Jamaica being gifted possession courtesy of an overly-ambitious pass and making no mistake at the other end of the court.
The side ranked number two in the world have looked impressive in their first two matches, but will face a sterner test when they take on South Africa tomorrow.
Jamaica’s Shanice Beckford said of their start to the game:
“We were flat, we were not sticking to the game plan. Our coach told us we needed to mark more. Nicole Dixon came on at centre and she brought that defensive (aspect) to that second quarter.”
Jamaica got off to a strong start, with goal shooter Romelda Aiken towering above her opponents to score twice. Fiji were unfazed though, and while Jamaica’s attack dominated, they were unable to settle themselves in the first five minutes and missed a handful of opportunities.
They got into their attacking stride though, building a healthy lead as the first quarter progressed. Once Fiji managed to break through Jamaica’s strong defence, they too showed glimpses of promise in the attacking third, despite ending the first quarter 19-8 adrift.
Fiji came back strong in the second quarter, scoring in the opening minute. Jamaica quickly seized control though, keeping their opponents out for a full ten minutes while consistently building their lead. Fiji regained some strength in the final five minutes, with Laisani Waqa scoring three times and Lydia Panapasa scoring in the final 10 seconds of the quarter.
Despite the brief rebuilding job though, when the half time whistle blew Jamaica were comfortably ahead: 40-14.
A dominant third quarter saw the Jamaicans add 27 goals to their total, with substitute Jhaniele Fowler contributing the lion’s share of those.
Jamaica’s experience and strength was really starting to show, as Fiji’s young team – which included a host of World Cup debutants – struggled to stop the flow. They remained resilient though, and brought on fresh legs which posed a new challenge for the Sunshine Girls in the fourth quarter.
Lydia Panapasa and Unaisi Rauluni took their opportunities when they got on to court, but Jamaica showed their class to wrap up a comfortable 85-29 win.
Jamaica’s Vangelee Williams said:
“I feel happy about the win. It wasn’t our best performance but the fact that we could make use of everybody today – we maintained the lead and we maintained our dominance.
“We threw away a lot of balls carelessly – we need to clean up on those simple errors. We need to fix those because we know in the bigger games it will cost us more.”
Fiji’s Lydia Panapasa said:
“The girls did good against the number two team in the world – there are a lot of positives for us to take. This is my first world cup and it’s been amazing – everyone is really supportive. We have family coming to watch and the atmosphere is really good.”