Netball World Cup 2019: England survive tough Jamaica test

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2019 Netball World Cup on the BBC
Venue: Liverpool Arena Dates: 12-21 July
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, Connected TVs, BBC Sport website and app from 15 July; Follow daily live text commentaries online. Full details.

England secured an emphatic 56-48 victory over world number two side Jamaica, to all but secure their place in the Netball World Cup semi-finals. This was a first real test for the Roses against a team who sit one place above them in the rankings.

After a cagey opening two quarters, England pulled away in the second half to maintain their unbeaten record in the tournament so far. Jamaica’s fate in the World Cup is now out of their own hands. They must win both of their two remaining games against Scotland and Uganda with a big goal margin and hope England or South Africa lose their remaining fixtures. Tracey Neville’s side, the Commonwealth champions, will guarantee a semi-final spot with victory over Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday (15:00 BST).

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England counteract Fowler’s perfect score

Netball World Cup 2019: England survive tough Jamaica test 1
Jhanelle Fowler did not miss a single shot for Jamaica but it was not enough to secure her side victory

World number three England, who finished with bronze at the last World Cup, carried a slender two-goal lead into half-time after a scrappy first half.

Neither side had been at their best, with England’s Helen Housby and Jo Harten suffocated by Jamaica’s defensive duo Shamera Sterling and Jodi-Ann Ward. But they began to enjoy more success as the third quarter progressed, with England generally sharper and hungrier for the ball.

The Roses turned on the class as the second half wore on with Geva Mentor – who had a solid first half – excelling at goal keeper, coming up with aerial intercepts at will. And her efforts were rewarded with Housby and Harten’s improved shooting efforts, but neither could top Jhanelle Fowler’s incredible 100% accuracy at the other end.

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Jamaica – no longer a bogey team?

Jamaica and England have been bronze medal rivals for the past 20 years – meeting in the play-off places at major tournaments nine times since 1999.

And the Roses were desperate to avenge their 3-0 Test series loss to the Sunshine Girls when these two sides met last October. Former centre Sara Bayman described the Sunshine Girls as England’s “bogey team” and her summary was spot on following the first-half showing. But by the final whistle England had avoided a slip-up in quite some style.

“The shooters did an excellent job considering the world-class defenders they were up against,” said Neville, who punched the air in delight at the end of the match. “We knew this was going to be one of the toughest games in this round. We had seven heroes on that court today and four on the bench.”

BBC Sport has launched #ChangeTheGame this summer to showcase female athletes in a way they never have been before. Through more live women’s sport available to watch across the BBC this summer, complemented by our journalism, we are aiming to turn up the volume on women’s sport and alter perceptions.

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