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JAMAICA - Commonwealth Games Netball

Date March 19, 2006 Compliments of the Nation News

MELBOURNE - With the music of their icons bellowing from the speakers of the State Hockey and Netball Centre, Jamaica's netballers made light work of Barbados yesterday.

The women from the land of wood and water played their poorest netball in the first 60 seconds, then dominated Barbados with their fluent mid-court transition and physical defending to easily win 69-30.

Rated third in the world and expected to be only challenged by world champs New Zealand or hosts Australia at these Commonwealth Games, Jamaica's reserves sang along with the large crowd to famous tracks by Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff, as teammates strut their stuff on the court.

Barbados scored the first two goals of the contest within 30 seconds after stealing the first centre-pass, but, after that, managed just five goals in the next 14-and-a-half minutes, as Jamaica tightened their defensive screws to lead 22-5 after the first period.

Barbados are ranked four spots below Jamaica, but the standard of play between the two is really chalk and cheese.

And Barbados coach Anna Shepherd knows exactly why.

"We have worked extremely hard to get here, but you can talk until the cows come home, the only way we will ever be able to be competitive against the top teams, is with international exposure," she told SUNSPORT after the match.

Barbados' best player was goal-shoot Lydia Bishop, who, in the face of taller and faster Jamaica defenders, single-handedly led Barbados' offence.

Shepherd immediately admitted the goal-attack position was the team's major weakeness, along with its inexperienced centre-court.

The most blaring weakness though, was the goal attack position. In the first period, Denese Alleyne didn't even attempt a shot, and her replacement Laurel Browne had a shaky start, but even after improving, the converted goal-shoot was no match for Jamaica's defenders.

Jamaica led 40-10 at half-time, and started to make a number of changes when it was clear they could not be challenged.

Shepherd also made changes, but mostly due to inexperience and injury. The mother-and-daughter team of Jacqui and Samantha Browne started, and young Samantha played well until the more experienced Jamaicans started to read her movements and passes.

Captain Julie Philips left the court with an injured left elbow, and Jackie Browne also had ankle issues. Jamaica were led by captain Elena Davis and goal-attack Nagina Forbes, their best player, who controlled the pace and shot attempts for her team.

Throughout the onslaught though, Bishop used her broad shoulders well

to get a number a close-range shots, and also became an immediate crowd favourite with her versatile play. On many occasions, with Barbados'mid-court faltering, Bishop left the circle to become a pressure relief valve, but there was only so much one player could do.

"We did play well in spots, and when we did put passes together we looked pretty good, but clearly, with our young centre court playing against a very experienced Jamaica side, this was always going to be a tough match," Shepherd said.

It will get even tougher tonight in their second game against hosts and world number two, Australia. Bishop scored 18 of her 26 attempts, whilst Browne had 12 of 20.

For Jamaica, Davis scored 22 of 28 attempts, and Forbes finished with

22 of 30. Reserve shooter Latoya Thomas also came off the bench to hit 25 of 32 shots.


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