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Netball Nations Cup: England lose 70-66 to Jamaica to miss out on final

England will play South Africa in Sunday’s bronze medal match

England head coach Jess Thirlby said it was “the one that got away” after they missed out on the Netball Nations Cup final with a 70-66 loss to Jamaica.

The Roses produced a stirring comeback from 14 goals down in the final quarter but Jamaica held firm to record a famous win at London’s Copper Box.

England face South Africa in the third-place play-off, while Jamaica play New Zealand in Sunday’s final.

“It’s frustrating as the game was within our capabilities,” Thirlby said.

“The record books will always say we lost and it is frustrating but we have to move on, my players are not shying away from the opportunity and they believe in their ability.”

Thirlby, who led England to a 58-54 win over the Proteas on Wednesday in the round-robin stage, said her players “relish” playing Jamaica because of the long-standing rivalry between the teams.

“Jamaica love playing England and it seems to be a motivating factor for them,” Thirlby added.

“I’ve seen the good and bad [of the rivalry] and unfortunately we have faced Jamaica on the wrong day of the tournament.

“We relish this and we’re beginning to see world class match-ups that you can’t predict anymore.”

It was a tense opening quarter with Jamaica, guilty of lacking intensity so far in this tournament, noticeably sharper in their warm-up and carrying this through into a high-energy start.

England matched them, though, driving the ball through court with purpose but a flurry of errors in attack as the first break approached gifted Jamaica a 19-15 lead.

Thirlby brought on Chelsea Pitman to wing attack as captain Natalie Haythornthwaite moved to goal attack for the second quarter, a combination that worked so effectively in Wednesday’s win over South Africa.

England defenders Stacey Francis and Kate Shimmin double-marked Jhaniele Fowler in an attempt to restrict feeds 6ft 6in tall shooter, a tactic Jamaica were ready to counteract, switching passes to goal attack Shanice Beckford to set up a shot instead.

The Roses wilted under the pressure, unforced errors creeping in while the Sunshine Girls, who led by seven goals at half-time, were playing with flair and confidence.

Defensive-minded Amy Carter came on at centre for the second half, although it was in attack England struggled and lacked creativity.

Tempers simmered as Cardwell and Shamera Sterling butted heads, but it was the Sunshine Girl who had the last word with her side 57-44 up at three-quarter-time and the hosts facing defeat.

However in a thrilling fourth period England, roared on by a packed crowd, had other ideas as they sapped out any remaining energy to claw themselves back to within four goals with two minutes to play but Jamaica then held firm.

England starting seven: GK Stacey Francis, GD Kate Shimmin, WD Laura Malcolm, C Jade Clarke, WA Natalie Haythornthwaite, GA Kadeen Corbin, GS Eleanor Cardwell

Jamaica starting seven: GK Kadie-Ann Dehaney, GD Sterling, WD Shadian Hemmings, C Nicole Dixon, WA Khadijah Williams, GA Shanice Beckford, GS Jhaniele Fowler

New Zealand 48-41 South Africa

Earlier at the Copper Box, New Zealand started with their strongest seven, head coach Noeline Taurua not tempted to take the opportunity to rest her players despite having already qualified for Sunday’s final.

And it was a testament to Taurua’s faith in her squad’s fitness, as they showed no signs of fatigue in their third game in seven days, producing clean, crisp passing and high-tempo passages of play from the outset.

Shooter Maia Wilson, a candidate for the world champions’ player of the tournament, combined well with wing attack Gina Crampton and fellow shooter Ameliaranne Ekenasio.

But South Africa, despite knowing they couldn’t make the final after losing their first two games, played like they had something to prove.

Poor in the second half against England in the previous match, the Proteas’ centre court fluidly connected defence and attack and they were within touch at half-time, trailing 27-20

The Silver Ferns eased up after the break and South Africa took advantage, brilliantly levelling the scores (31-31) in the third quarter and the game went goal for goal.

But the world number two side were ultimately too strong for a much-improved South Africa and head into the final unbeaten in the tournament.

Article courtesy of BBC Sport
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