Netball:Jersey lead the way despite defeat

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Somerset 23, Jersey 69: Jersey took a while to settle into the speed of play, particularly as they had a different starting line-up from normal, but the longer the game went on, the more they grew in confidence and took command in all areas of the court as they led 16-9 by the end of the first quarter.Team changes were made which meant they played with a more familiar combination, the new defensive partnership of Sharon West and Mary Blampied with Jane Le Feuvre at WD creating endless turnovers.Jersey’s game began to flow, with shooting duo Zoe Hotton and Jackie Norman exploiting the home side’s defence and helping to create a 32-14 lead by half-time.The coaches, confident in the team’s flexibility, made further changes at half-time.With Holly Oakes now partnering Mary Blampied, the two women used their agility and height in the circle to dominate play.

More interceptions were made enabling Blampied to drive powerfully across the centre third to link with the talented WA Jenna Bushell, whose presence once again proved a telling factor in attack.Carol McKeon as centre covered the court wisely in her driving and clearing, and good decision-making meant they finished the quarter 51-20 ahead.In the final quarter more changes were made, although Blampied continued to be dominant, this time in centre court where she drove through the area at speed.

Shooters Hotton and Shelby Wright reacted to the first-time ball and converted their shots with confidence.The longer the game went on the more young Oakes grew in stature, and alongside team-mates West and Hayley Miller, the trio repeatedly denied Somerset any attacking space; the home side scoring only three goals in the final quarter.Avon 57, Jersey 39: Avon, with their England,Wales and Federation of European Netball Association players in the team, provided a much tougher challenge in what was a fast, explosive and physical match, and Jersey had their work cut out for this match.Avon were a joy to watch as they used excellent footwork skills to create the space, while simultaneously driving hard across court with speed and precision.In contrast, Jersey began tentatively, not really believing in their own skills and failing to come to terms with the speed of decision-making that the game demanded.

However, the longer the game went on the more the Jersey girls developed strategies to close down the Avon attack while, in turn, creating opportunities for themselves.

So, despite going behind in the first three quarters, the team actually ‘won’ the final quarter, recognising that they do have the talent to take on, and potentially beat, some of the best teams in England.Coach Linda Andrews said that she was delighted with the way the team performed overall.’In the first match, even though the line-up was different, the girls gelled very well.

In the second match they were up against it and it took a while to regain their self-belief – but they do have the skills and talent to beat good teams, and they can only benefit from playing against such teams.

All of them are hungry for further training and looking forward to their next match, against Leicestershire, on home ground.’

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