Sunday 5 April, 2020

Bronze for Sunshine Girls; Jamaica win 27 medals at Commonwealth Games

Jamaica's Sunshine Girls defeated New Zealand 60-55 in the bronze medal match in the netball competition at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast on Sunday (Saturday night Jamaica time).

In the gold medal match, England caused the biggest of upsets in the final, beating heavily-favoured Australia 52-51 with a last-second goal.

Australia and New Zealand had always played the netball gold medal final at the Commonwealth Games. This time around the Silver Ferns missed a Commonwealth Games netball medal for the first time, meaning that the Sunshine Girls consigned them to their worst result at a Commonwealth Games - in the five previous tournaments, they'd won two gold and three silver.

On their way to victory, the Sunshine Girls led 15-11 at quartertime and 29-27 at the major break with the Jamaicans shooting a lofty 91 per cent and New Zealand a lowly 68 per cent.

New Zealand fought back and grabbed their first lead of the match three minutes into the penultimate quarter but Jamaica responded with some inspired defence to draw away to a 46-39 advantage with 15 minutes to play. New Zealand pulled to within four with 5:12 to play but Jamaica held their nerve.

New Zealand suffered a number of setbacks in the match. They were forced to start Bailey Mes as starting goal shoot Te Paea Selby-Rickit missed the game with a virus. Mes again struggled with her shooting and was subbed in the third quarter for Ameliaranne Ekenasio.

The Ferns also had to make another enforced change when goal keep Temalisi Fakahokotau landed awkwardly on her ankle late in the first quarter and hobbled off. She was  replaced by Kelly Jury.

When Fakahokotau was replaced, she had been gallantly battling powerhouse goal shoot Jhaniele Fowler-Reid.  The overseas-based Fowler-Reid had to be substituted for veteran Romelda Aiken.

New Zealand suffered another injury in that spell to centre Shannon Francois. As  a result of that injury  Sam Sinclair was switched to centre and Claire Kersten come on at wing defence. 

Aiken led the scoring for Jamaica with 24 goals from 31 attempts, while Fowler-Reid had 21 from 22 and Shanice Beckford 15 from 18.

For New Zealand, Maria Folau had 34-44, Mes 12 from 20 and Ekenasio 9 from 13.

As a result of the bronze medal, Jamaica finished the Commonwealth Games  in 11 position in the medal standings with 27 medals (7 gold, 9 silver and 11 bronze). Track and field accounted for 25 of Jamaica's 27 medals. Swimming was the other sports to win a medal for Jamaica as Alia Atkinson took silver in the women's 50-metre breaststroke on April 6.

Australia finished atop the medal standings with 198 (80 gold, 59 silver and 59 bronze). England finished second with 136 (45 gold, 45 silver and 46 bronze).

India 66 (26 gold, 20 silver, 20 bronze), Canada 82 (15 gold, 40 silver, 27 bronze) and New Zealand 46 (15 gold, 16 silver, 15 bronze) complete the top five.

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