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Rangers, Blackbirds get ball rolling

SHERRYLYN CLARKE, [email protected]

Rangers, Blackbirds get ball rolling

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Fans can expect a cracker of a game between league queens C.O. Williams Rangers and UWI Blackbirds as the netball season launches this evening with the knockouts at the Netball Stadium.
?The Blackbirds have captured a number of under-21 players to install themselves among the favourites in a Division One field which has seen the loss of Spooners Hill leaving a four-team also involving the defending champions, Pine Hill St Barnabas, Rangers and Pride of Villa.
The retirement of Lydia Bishop has seen last year’s losing finalists Spooners Hill opting to leave division one which will create a gaping hole in the on and off court fireworks for which Spooners Hill’s players, officials and fans are noted. 
Last year Spooners Hill were involved in a number of controversies with the final one leading to a suspension of versatile coach Alwyn Babb.
However, the boosting of the line-up of the Blackbirds should ensure that Rangers and St Barnabas are not the only teams to watch. 
This evening’s seven o’clock clash will determine how serious a threat the Blackbirds can offer.
The acquisition of the Wharton sisters Shanice and Shonica adds height to the accuracy of Shonica, who is also a member of the senior team making a natural replacement for Monique James who carried the Blackbirds’ attack last year along with the returning Mechelle Liburd.
Junior national captain Rieah Holder, along with Damisha Croney and Shanice Rock, adds speed to the Blackbirds while the robust play of Alicia Harding as well as that of Jehlesal Brathwaite and Teresa Howell give coach Margaret Cutting plenty of options.
Ironically, Rangers’ coach Sandra Bruce-Small would know the junior players better than anyone else and more importantly she knows the skill and experience of her own line-up. 
All-rounder Rhe-Ann Niles has little equal in terms of elevation and defence in the circle while Nikita Piggott’s accuracy at the other end will rack up points for the Rangers.
The swift and talented mid court of Sabreena Smith, a fit Tyneisha Rowe along with key support from Vanessa Reid-Cox, Nikita President, Shakeena Rock, Kathy-Ann Agard, Natasha Birkett-Sealy and Janelle Sealy, point to a fascinating start to the new season. (KB)