Sunshine Girls grab bronze medal from White Ferns

Sunday, April 15, 2018

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GOLD COAST, Australia (CMC) — Jamaica condemned New Zealand to their lowest finish at the Commonwealth Games, brushing them aside 60-55 to collect their second straight bronze medal on Sunday.

The Jamaicans lead 15-11 after the first period and 29-17 at the half-time break, but fell behind momentarily three minutes into the third quarter before responding with some inspired defence to draw away to a 46-39 advantage at the end of the penultimate stanza.

The White Ferns came roaring back in the final quarter however, and came to within four with 5:12 to play, but the Sunshine Girls held their nerve to pull out a comfortable victory at the Coomera Indoor Sports Centre.

Veteran Romelda Aiken scored 24 goals from her 31 attempts for 77 per cent shooting, team captain Jhaniele Fowler-Reid added 21 from 22 and goal attack Shanice Beckford provided valuable support with 15 from 18.

The result was tacit consolation for Jamaica following their heart-breaking loss against England in the semi-finals on Saturday.

But it consigned the once high-flying White Ferns to their fourth loss in the GC2018 tournament, as they missed out on the final for the first time since the sport was introduced at the Games two decades ago in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The Jamaicans were more efficient in converting their turnovers in the first quarter in contrast to the New Zealanders, who struggled to make any gains and too often lost possession on transition.

The Sunshine Girls did well defensively to make New Zealand battle to bring the ball to edge of the circle, and the feed into Bailey Mes and Maria Folau rarely looked assured.

Fowler-Reid and Beckford also had their hands full at the other end of the court, as the New Zealanders clawed their way back in the second period.

Aiken replaced Fowler-Reid at the start of the third quarter and for the entire second half of the game, but the Jamaicans were left reeling, when New Zealand reeled off five quickfire goals early in the period to give the Ferns the lead for the first and only time at 32-30.

The Sunshine Girls however, hit back almost immediately to open out a seven-goal lead and maintained that margin into the break before going on to control the final spell of play and close out the victory.

The result meant that Jamaica ended with a medal tally of 27, comprising seven gold, nine silver and 11 bronze, the most they have ever won at the Games.

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