Netball: England secure emphatic win to take series to final day decider
England Roses secured a commanding 63-50 victory over Jamaica at Belle Vue, Manchester on Friday 2nd December.
It was an emphatic response to their defeat in Tuesday's opener and means that just like the Sunshine Girls' previous full tour to England, the series will come down to a nail-biting third match decider.
Q1: England 17-7 Jamaica
Both teams took their time to settle with England needing the win to take the series to a decider and Jamaica determined to have the overall victory in the bag before the sides meet in Coventry. Roared on by the home crowd at Belle Vue, England made an excellent start and turned over early on before asserting their dominance against the physical Sunshine Girls and establishing a lead.
Player of the quarter: Ama Agbeze
Captain Agbeze had a storming first quarter, keeping Jamaica's biggest threat Jhaniele Fowler-Reid at bay with some fine interceptions and excellent marking as well as winning calls in her favour. Both her determination and leadership were second-to-none.
England's biggest strength: Interceptions
WD Beth Cobden stole an absolute scorcher to turnover while GK Ama Agbeze, GD Eboni Beckford-Chambers and C Jade Clarke also made important interceptions to regain possession for England. Along with some sharp shooting from GA Kadeen Corbin and GS Joanne Harten, this considerably helped the Roses finish the first quarter ahead.
Q2: England 32-20 Jamaica
The Roses' defence continued to stand strong with the high feed into Jhaniele Fowler-Reid being restricted. Some signs of hesitation started to creep in with a few misplaced passes from England and Jamaica tried to get to Tracey Neville's side psychologically with a few heavy hits. However, the Roses still managed to extend their advantage.
Player of the quarter: Beth Cobden
Cobden stole the show in this quarter with some stellar defending. She successfully marked her opponent out of the game, made some fine interceptions and picked up the loose ball on the edge of the goal circle. In addition, her mid-court and attacking build-up play was fantastic.
England's biggest weakness: Passing
It seems silly to pick out a weakness when England were so dominant in this quarter but far too often in the past, including Tuesday's opener, they've shot themselves in the foot with unforced errors. There were several looping passes that came close to being intercepted (some which were), several passes which were either misplaced or too strong and this meant possession was wasted when they could have extended their advantage.
Q3: England 47-32 Jamaica
Stacey Francis was a second-half substitute as she replaced Eboni Beckford-Chambers at GD and had an immediate impact, intercepting to turnover and grab England another goal. The Sunshine Girls sunk a run of three shots and then another five to close the gap but the Roses kept to centre pass and protected their lead.
England's biggest strength: Teamwork
The Roses appeared somewhat disjointed in Tuesday's opener with a lack of cohesion between the different units on the court. However, England combined well and looked a lot more in sync with each other on Friday evening. They worked hard for each other, always offering different options and angles, and the tempo of their play was much improved.
Player of the quarter: Joanne Harten
Harten delivered a pretty flawless performance throughout the entire match. She exuded confidence, shooting from both the edge of the area as well as right under the post, and remained composed in a tense atmosphere. The GS also displayed clever movement to get herself or Corbin closer to the target.
Q4: England 63-50 Jamaica
The Sunshine Girls outscored the hosts in the final quarter but the damage had already been done in the earlier stages of the game and they were unable to claw their way back and take the series 2-0. Kadeen Corbin, Joanne Harten and Serena Guthrie linked up well for the Roses as they added to their tally and impressive performance.
England's biggest strength: Holding their nerve
Friday's match was all-or-nothing and the players knew it. Despite going into the final quarter with a 15-point lead, it was essential that the Roses kept going right until the end. They displayed some electric passing, swift movement and accurate shooting instead of crumbling under the pressure. It was a completely different side to the one in action at the Copper Box on Tuesday.
Player of the quarter: Ama Agbeze
Captain fantastic Agbeze was awarded the Player of the Match award at the end, fighting off close competition from Beth Cobden. Her performance encapsulated the grit, endeavour and passion of the entire team. How she kept a 6ft 6 shooter out of the game when she's just 6ft herself is testament to her athleticism and a defensive masterclass for all up-and-coming young netballers in the crowd.