Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls went out with a bang to claim third spot in the FAST5 Netball World Series, beating South Africa 44-17 in the play-off.
It was a one-place improvement on last year’s fourth placing for the Sunshine Girls, who lost to South Africa in last year’s play-off.
Shooter Jhaniele Fowler, who was named player of the match, had mixed feelings about the final result. “It feels good, but it would have felt better if that was our semifinal performance. But it still feels real good,” she said.
“We wanted to end it on a high note because we didn’t make the finals but we wanted to go out with a bang. I’m really happy my team showed up, and showed up real good.” South African captain Maryka Holtzhausen said her team were disappointed not to replicate their third placing of last season.
“We could have done much better, but it was the second game today where we let them get past us, so we need to work on that for next year,” she said.
“But it’s been a great time. This is the best tournament of the year, I look forward to it every year from January.”
The game began with a quick tempo, but signs of fatigue after three intense days on court gradually crept in. Misguided passes and missed shots were liberally peppered through play in the first quarter, which Jamaica claimed 7-6.
The second spell was South Africa’s power play but Jamaica emerged from it more profitably. Jamaica’s unsung hero, goal attack Thristina Harwood, sunk some timely shots and keeper Romelda Aiken thwarted the South African shooters’ attempts to take the lead.
Against the odds of power play, the Sunshine Girls held a one-point lead, 15-14, at halftime.
Despite the athletic efforts of zippy South African centre Bongiwe Msomi, the Jamaican flow through court could not be stemmed, and Harwood and Fowler deftly finished off to make their team’s power play a potent one.
It was a big ask for South Africa to come back from a 41-17 deficit in the final quarter, and the courageous attempts to claw back points by Chrisna Bootha and Maryka Holtzhausen fell short and they were unable to add any more to the final tally.
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