Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls stun Australia in dramatic come-back 57-55 win 

Birmingham, England – Jamaica’s national netball team, the Sunshine Girls, rallied from a six-goal deficit to stun the world’s top-ranked Australia Diamonds 57-55 in their Pool A top-of-the-table netball clash at the Commonwealth Games inside the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) Arena on Thursday.

The historic first win over Australia in these Friendly Games left the Sunshine Girls unbeaten and atop Pool A with maximum points 10 points from five games, following victories over Wales, South Africa, Barbados and Scotland.

The Girls, who have delivered exciting netball since the beginning of the games, will now face New Zealand, beaten 44-54 by England in their Pool B top-of-the-table clash, in the semi-final on Saturday.

Captain and ace goal shoot Jhaniele Fowler led her team with 47 goals from 50 attempts in 60 minutes, with goal attack Shanice Beckford netting a perfect 10 goals in her one hour on the court.

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The Diamonds’ twin-attack of goal shoot Gretel Bueta with 36 goals from 39 attempts in 60 minutes and goal attack Steph Wood with 19 goals from 22 tries, also in 60 minutes, threw everything at the winners, until Jamaica turned up the defence to trigger turnovers in the final quarter.

Australia led 14-13 after the first quarter and the 16-16 result in the second quarter was a true indication of the competitiveness of the game at the half-time interval.

Australia dominated the third quarter with a 16-11 result to take a six-point lead heading into the final stanza, only for Jamaica to storm back behind a raucous crowd.

Wing defence Jodi-Ann Ward led the team with two interceptions, and ace goal keep Shamera Sterling added one, as did Fowler and Beckford.

“It’s surreal, we’ve not beaten Australia at a Commonwealth Games and to come here and do it with an incredible team, just go out there and prove everyone wrong was really good,” said the Sunshine Girls team leader.

Fowler added: “Australia is number one and if we beat the number one team, that means we can do anything. We want to go home with either a gold or silver medal, but we’re going for the gold, that’s always been our focus.”

Having moved clear in the third quarter, the Diamonds would have expected to comfortably last home and seal the number one spot in Pool A, but they could only muster two interceptions all game, and when the Girls increased their defensive intensity, they had no answer.

Centre Kate Maloney, who dished out 11 assists in her 60 minutes on court, thought the Diamonds missed a trick in the final stanza.

“We probably let ourselves down with some execution stuff in that last quarter. Up until three-quarter tie, up by six goals, credit to Jamaica, but we probably should have been able to run that one out. (But when they’ve got weapons like they do, you never really have it.”

A win over New Zealand will see the Sunshine Girls playing in the gold medal match against the winner of the England vs Australia semi-final, also scheduled for Saturday.

Read More: Rasheed Broadbell Storms to Facile Victory in 110m Hurdles at Commonwealth Games

Elsewhere, Yona Knight-Wisdom finished fifth in the men’s 1m springboard final with 383.10 points, well behind winner, England’s Jack Laugher with 447.05 points.

Knight-Wisdom had earlier finished fifth in the preliminary with 383.60 points. He will now await the preliminary of the men’s 3m springboard on Saturday.

In badminton, Samuel Ricketts and Tahlia Richardson lost 1-2 (13-21, 21-16, 8-21) to Australia’s Jack Yu and Kaitlin Ea in mixed doubles round of 32 action. In the other mixed doubles round of 32 match, Joel Angus and Katherine Wynter defeated the Guernsey pair of Stuart Hardy and Chloe Le Tissier 2-0 (21-17, 21-11).

Richardson won her singles round of 32 match 2-0 (21-15, 21-14) against Pakistan’s Ghazala Siddique, and Ricketts and Angus beat the Mauritius pair of Alexandre Bongout and Tejraj Pultoo 2-0 (21-19, 21-15).

Canada’s Brian Yang then withdrew against Ricketts in men’s singles round of 32. The Jamaicans will be involved in another full slate of matches on Friday.

In round five of lawn bowls men’s singles sectional play Section C, Robert Simpson lost 4-21 to Fiji’s Semesa Naiseruvati.

Meanwhile, Chris Binnie and Julian Morrison edged Othniel Bailey and Jason Doyle of St Vincent and the Grenadines 2-1 (8-11, 11-4, 11-4) in men’s doubles round of 32 squash game.

They will return to play the Australia pair of Zac Alexander and Ryan Cuskelly in the round of 16 game on Friday.

And in mixed doubles round of 64 table tennis action, Kane Watson and Solesha Young went down 1-3 (7-11, 11-9, 8-11, 1-11) to Ghana’s Derek Abrefa and Cynthia Kwabi.

On Friday, Aaron Johnson is scheduled to meet Bangladesh’s Liton Biswas in the quarter-finals of the men’s freestyle 125kg at Coventry Arena.

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