Jhaniele Fowler led the way when Jamaica defeated Australia in a stunning 57-55 upset, beating the netball club’s No. 1 to take first place in their Commonwealth Games pool.
With six goals down in the last quarter, the Sunshine Girls stormed back to a rowdy crowd at Arena Birmingham. Fowler, a four-time Super Netball MVP with Australia’s West Coast Fever, proved unstoppable, scoring 47 goals from 50 attempts.
Australia’s two-pronged attack by Gretel Bueta (36 of 39) and Steph Wood (19 of 22) did everything in their power to bring Australia home, but expensive turnovers ultimately led the Diamonds to an unexpected defeat.
The favorites for the gold medal-winning tournament now face the winner of Thursday’s final preparatory match between England and New Zealand in a blockbuster semi-final. Jamaica will face the losing side with the winners of the two games advancing to the gold medal match.
“It’s surreal, we didn’t beat Australia at a Commonwealth Games and to come here and do it with an incredible team just go out there and prove everyone wrong,” Fowler said afterwards.
“Australia is number 1 and if we beat the number 1 team it means we can do anything,” she added. “We want to go home with a gold or a silver medal, but we’re going for the gold, that’s always been our focus.”
“We probably let ourselves down with some execution material in that last quarter,” said Diamonds center Kate Moloney. “Until three-quarters, six goals for Jamaica, but we probably should have been able to finish it. [But] if they have guns like them… you never really have it.”
Jamaica’s game plan was clear from the start, get the ball to Fowler early and often. It turned the middle third into a battlefield as players hit the deck on numerous occasions. Jamaica jumped out to a 7-3 lead but Australia hit back, Bueta equaled Fowler’s 10 goals in the first quarter as they took a one-goal lead into the first break.
Australia started pushing themselves in the second quarter as they opened a 27-23 lead, but to the delight of the crowd, Jamaica stormed home and came in within one at the long break. The third quarter was all of Australia as they came out to a six-goal lead for Jamaica’s late golf.