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Nat Metcalf of England competes for the ball with Crystal Plummer

Jamaica forced a decider in their three-match series against England after an intriguing 61-58 win at the Copper Box Arena.

Every centimetre of the court was used by both teams who produced a thrilling display of netball that will be familiar to Netball Super League fans.

England took an early lead before the Sunshine Girls fought back to lead at half-time and just held on to take the win.

London Pulse players made their presence known from the get-go, Chelsea Pitman ending up in the seating as she put everything on the line before Olivia Tchine scored her first goal to give England a narrow lead.

Funmi Fadoju, in her preferred goal defence position, put in an early intercept before Tchine was perfectly set up by a bounce pass from Team Bath’s Imogen Allison, in the centre bib, to put England up 18-12 at quarter-time.

As England had overturned a six-point deficit in the first match, Jamaica came back fighting in the second quarter as their defence put pressure on the Vitality Roses’ previously impregnable shooters.

England and Manchester Thunder captain Nat Metcalf came on at wing attack to help restore some calm as Jamaica ended the first half 31-27 in front.

Roses head coach Jess Thirlby rang the changes at half-time bringing on most-capped player Jade Clarke, Loughborough Lightning’s Fran Williams and Sophie Drakeford-Lewis of Surrey Storm.

Plenty of flair was on show in the third quarter as Jamaica added to their lead, ending with a seven-goal advantage.

England came out for the final quarter roaring, Sophie Drakeford-Lewis sending a long ball to Tchine to rouse the crowd.

The Roses bench were on their feet as Fadoju forced Jhaniele Fowler into contact to send England on the attack and close the gap to four.

Thirlby’s side were firing on all cylinders as Jamaica struggled to deal with the Roses’ physicality, Clarke plucking the ball out of the sky to see the home side move three away from parity.

England kept fighting to the final buzzer, Tchine sinking the final goal of the game, but it was not enough to stop Jamaica from earning the win and setting up a decider with the first centre pass at 2pm tomorrow.

Curtain-raiser gets fans in the mood

England Futures were given a great test by England Thorns in the curtain-raiser, with the Thorns coming away 75-41 winners.


Six NSL clubs were represented in the starting seven of the Futures team with Jayda Pechova of Team Bath and Leeds Rhinos’ Millie Sanders joining up in the defensive circle.

At the opposite end, Kira Rothwell of Saracens Mavericks and Pulse’s Berri Neil kept England in a tight first quarter that saw the Thorns claim a 16-10 lead.

Both sides kept battling in a competitive fixture before the Thorns earned the first win of a two-game tussle, with the first centre pass of the second game taking place at 11:45am tomorrow.

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