Jess Thirlby was impressed with England’s fightback in the final quarter but was frustrated that they didn’t capitalise enough on goal earlier as they were beaten 70-66 by Jamaica in London, writes Nicola Kenton.
With one victory apiece, Thirlby’s England knew a win would take them straight into the final of the Vitality Netball Nations Cup but they weren’t able to overcome the visiting Sunshine Girls.
At the break, England trailed Jamaica by four goals but that increased to 13 at the end of the third quarter and despite a determined finish the Vitality Roses fall just short at the Copper Box.
England now face South Africa in the bronze-medal match on Sunday and while proud of their determination, Thirlby knows her side left themselves too much to do.
“I’m super impressed, I asked for them to play final 15 minutes as a match within itself and close the gap,” Thirlby said.
“They certainly responded to that but you can’t give a team like Jamaica a lead like that, it’s very difficult to close down but what an effort.
“We only lost the first two quarters by four goals and I think we actually won a lot of ball in that opening quarter against the tower that is Jhaniele Fowler.
“I was actually impressed that we did that but I think we know that throughout the journey this week, we need to keep minimising our errors and need to reward those turnovers.
“Our centre pass to goal was really quite high in the first half, so it was just a case of capitalising. The ball that we stole off them we gave too many back and that’s the problem.
“You just can’t afford to be in the negative on that so that’s something to work on.”
With the home crowd on their side, England started the match well and there was little between the two teams.
But Jamaica were quickly at their best and were able to punish the Vitality Roses for their sloppy errors, especially in the third quarter where they stretched their advantage from 39-31 to 57-44.
However, England came out all guns blazing in the final quarter and it showed as Thirlby made some tactical switches with George Fisher moving to goal shooter and Eleanor Cardwell at goal attack.
It wasn’t enough though as the gap was too big to close and head coach Thirlby knows she needs to have patience as her new-look squad builds the cohesion needed to get back to competing with the elite.
Schedule for the final day of the Vitality Netball Nations Cup on Sunday 26th January:— England Netball 🌹 (@EnglandNetball) January 25, 2020
🥉 Vitality Roses vs. @Netball_SA at 14:30
🏆 @SilverFernsNZ vs. @NetballJamaica at 17:00
Catch the games live on @SkySports or their YouTube channel 📲 pic.twitter.com/MdSAkRwfy5
“The likes of Chelsea (Pitman) have only been with us for the last couple of weeks,” Thirlby added. “So, when you’re expecting team cohesion right now that’s really tough.
“There’s lots of learning out there and it’s just a case of keeping building. Tomorrow is going to be really tough, we wanted to get in the first vs. second match but ultimately, you’ve got two finals here and they’re going to be tight.
“We’ll keep going back to the drawing board, the girls are responding well in training and sometimes you just can’t accelerate certain things.
“Today tactically we stuck to the task, there was nothing out there we didn’t know and it just takes a while to get the learning and cohesion needed to take these teams.”