England Roses played Jamaica on home soil for the first time since 2014 in the Copper Box arena on Tuesday night. However, they could not overturn an almost faultless Jamaica team as they lost the first match of the Vitality Netball International Series, 49-66 in front of a sell-out crowd.
The Roses golden girl, Jade Clarke, celebrated becoming the most capped England Netballer in the Olympic venue with tributes before the match from friends and family. The celebrations continued as they went 11-5 up in the first quarter against the Commonwealth bronze medallists.
Clever play in the circle from Joanne Harten and Kadeen Corbin put immediate pressure on the Jamaican defence. With Clarke running the show in the centre the Roses looked like a force to be reckoned with, ending the first quarter with a four-goal lead at 16-12.
After being so far behind within the first ten minutes, goal shooter; Jhaniele Fowler-Reid said to her team, “We have this in us and we just have to show this on court.” In attempt to boost her squads moral and attack.
The Sunshine Girls put their height to use playing a high game to aid their 6’8 goal shooter, Fowler-Reid, causing havoc for the England defence. Within ten minutes of the second quarter, Jamaica had drawn level at 26-26. By half time, they had overcome a six-goal deficit to lead the home team 27-31 after a goal beat the whistle from the in-form goal shooter.
Coming back from half time, the visitors kept the pressure on England with four quick goals. With the defence struggling, manager, Tracey Neville, brought Beth Cobden into wing defence and moved the captain, Ama Agbeze out to goal defence to slow down the fast attacks. The Roses started the last quarter six goals behind at 43-49, with the game still in reach the girls knew they had their work cut out for them.
England started strongly with an important turnover in the Jamaican attacking third but could not capitalise as they lost the ball in scrappy play, which would also be the last momentum change in the match. Even with changes to the England defence, they were no match against the highest scorer of the match Fowler-Reid. The Roses lost the first International of the series 49-66.
After the match, England Captain Agbeze said “It’s been a long time since we’ve been at home, it’s been huge, this game was huge. We started well because of the energy and link to the home venue and crowd, we just didn’t carry that on which isn’t great.”
Fowler-Reid was awarded player of the match for her outstanding shooting throughout the night. Jamaica now look to take a 2-0 lead of the series when they play Friday night in Manchester, but the Roses will be out in full force to level the series at one-a-piece.
This article was written by Beth Gunter, a third year Sports Journalism student studies at the University of East London. Beth was the winner of our recent competition to Get Your Match Report Published Online and Go Girl are thrilled to have worked with her on this opportunity.
Beth is a volleyball Sports Scholar at University, she has been playing for around eight years as part of the England Squads. She used to play netball at school and has recently picked it up again while being at university. She chose to study sports journalism because of her passion for sport, university has been great fun and I get to share something I love through my studies.
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