Sunshine Girls warm-up for New Zealand clash with 89-26 win over T&T's Calypso Girls

By August 02, 2023
Jamaica's Sunshine Girls in action against Trinidad and Tobago's Calypso Girls at the Vitality Netball World Cup in Cape Town, South Africa on Wednesday. Jamaica's Sunshine Girls in action against Trinidad and Tobago's Calypso Girls at the Vitality Netball World Cup in Cape Town, South Africa on Wednesday. NetballWorldCup

Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls confirmed their spot in the semi-finals of the Vitality Netball World following another impressive performance in bettering Caribbean rivals Trinidad and Tobago 89-26 in their second Pool G game in Cape Town, South Africa on Wednesday.

Romelda Aiken-George led the way on this occasion with 37 goals from 42 attempts, getting support from Shanice Beckford, who chipped in with 20 goals from 24 attempts early on.

Captain Jhaniele Fowler, who was only introduced for the third quarter of the match, added 17 goals from 19 attempts, while Rebekah Robinson had 15 goals from 17 attempts in the blowout win.

Afeisha Noel expectedly led Trinidad and Tobago with 20 goals from 22 attempts.

After celebrating the Reggae Girlz historic feat of progressing to the knockout stages of the Fifa Women’s World Cup at the expense of Brazil in Australia, the Sunshine Girls entered their contest brimming with confidence and that was on display from the opening whistle.

With another strong start, both in attack and defence, the number four-ranked Jamaicans, forced a number of early turnovers and at one point, opened an 8-1 lead in the early exchanges.

Their fast and fluent transitions, coupled with that defensive pressure proved too much for the number 11-ranked Calypso Girls, who struggled to maintain composure, resulting in the Sunshine Girls taking a 20-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter was more of the same, as Trinidad and Tobago again struggled for rhythm. In fact, so high was the Jamaican tempo and flair that they scored 12 unanswered goals with the Calypso Girls only scoring one, in the first 10 minutes of the quarter.

They eventually found three more late on, but by then, the Jamaicans had raced to a 34-point gap, to enter the half-time break 44-10 up.  

Fowler entered the contest at the start of the third quarter and kept the scoring momentum going, so even though Trinidad and Tobago enjoyed their best scoring period with nine goals at that point, they found themselves 69-19 down and with too much to do heading into the final stanza.

As such, Sunshine Girls Head coach Connie Francis, used the opportunity to feel out a few other combinations, throwing rising sensation Crystal Plummer at centre and Adean Thomas back at wing attack to feed Aiken-George and Robinson, who scored at free will to complete the rout.

The Jamaicans, who last won one of their three bronze medals at the tournament in 2007, are aiming to not only break that drought, but to do so by winning the coveted gold medal and, by all indications, they are on course to do so.

Sunshine Girls assistant coach Shawn Murdock, believes the performance was a glimpse of how lethal the team can be when fresh and focused, as the brace for reigning champions and number two-ranked New Zealand in their Pool G top of the table clash on Thursday.

“We were so happy for the rest day to have the ladies rest and go again and the performance was proof of that recovery. We were actually using this game to prepare for the game against New Zealand tomorrow, so we wanted to get the ladies tuned in, limit turnovers and penalties to get ourselves ready for the game tomorrow,” Murdock said.

Meanwhile, Trinidad and Tobago’s captain Shaquanda Greene-Noel rued the lack of concentration from her team in another loss.

They are scheduled to take on Wales on Thursday.

“I don’t think we executed our game plan, I thought we had moments of brilliance, but indiscipline worked against us. It was a pleasure to come up against a Caribbean team, but we need to be better. We won some balls in defence which is good, so it is just to create more opportunities and put some shots up,” Greene-Noel said.

Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

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