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Spirited Jamaica Sunshine Girls notch win over Silver Ferns

Provided a testing workout, the Silver Ferns were beaten 59-51 by a resurgent Jamaica Sunshine Girls in their second match of the Taini Jamison Trophy at the North Shore Events Centre on Thursday.

With the first and third quarters even on the scoreboard, Jamaica held sway in the second and fourth stanzas to maintain their composure and finishing in the face of several valiant comeback efforts from the Silver Ferns.

With their twin tower shooting duo – Jhaniele Fowler-Reid for the first three quarters and Romelda Aiken for the run home – Jamaica had two potent weapons but were well-supported by a creative midcourt and staunch defensive line.

The Silver Ferns had encouraging moments but untimely lapses proved costly as Jamaica went on to post just their third win over the Silver Ferns and first since 2009.

Showing consistency with their selections, the Silver Ferns employed the same starting seven as for their opening game against the Malawi Queens with Bailey Mes picking up the goal attack bib and the nuggety Samantha Sinclair slotting in at wing defence.

On managed time for the series, shooter Maria Folau was rested for this match while athletic defender Temalisi Fakahokotau made a return to the match-day 12 after recovering from a rolled ankle.

The aerial prowess of the athletic Jamaicans provided a challenge throughout for the Silver Ferns, the lofty figure of former Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel shooter, Fowler-Reid proving a menacing obstacle under the visitors’ hoop.

A tight and entertaining first quarter where the ever-present Sinclair and impressive Jamaica goalkeeper Shamera Sterling provided the bonus ball, in terms of defensive turnovers, ensured nothing separated the teams heading into a 13-all stalemate at the first break.

Jamaica broke the shackles in a productive second stanza, a four-goal scoring streak helping them nose in front. The Silver Ferns clawed back a five-goal deficit with shooter Te Paea Selby-Rickit a picture of poise and accuracy under the hoop to keep the visitors well in the frame when Jamaica took a 30-27 lead into the main break.

With Sinclair moving to centre and dogged wing defence Claire Kersten and crowd favourite Fakahokotau (goalkeeper) injected from the bench, the Silver Ferns lifted the intensity levels to get back on level terms midway through the third stanza.

Testing Fowler-Reid in the air, Fakahokotau added a dynamic presence but Jamaica weathered the storm admirably to regain their edge in an even quarter to hold a 44-41 edge at three-quarter time before holding firm to shut the Silver Ferns out in the run to the line.

In the early game, a dominant first half helped the Malawi Queens post a 67-52 win over a gallant Fiji Pearls.

On the back of sparkling shooting effort from Mwai Kumwenda, who pocketed 54 goals for the match, Malawi built a healthy 19-goal advantage by the halftime break but were held in check by a spirited Fiji fightback.

Ranked No 12 in the world, a revitalised and rebuilding Fiji pushed the No 6 Malawi team hard in the second term. There were plenty of positives for shooter Afa Rusivakula, who turned out for the Northern Stars last year, playing a key role for Fiji with a personal haul of 32 goals from 35 attempts and a strong effort from the defence line.

The Silver Ferns will play Fiji tomorrow (Friday) in the late game ahead of Saturday’s play-offs.