Firebirds burn Rangers
SPOONERS HILL FIREBIRDS roasted former champions C.O. Williams Rangers 50-30 at the Netball Stadium on Monday night to assume pole position in the race for the 2018 Division 1 netball crown.
With veteran Lydia Bishop leading the drive with a game high 34 goals from 42 attempts and the fit Kerryann Brathwaite supporting with 16 of 20, the Firebirds blazed to leads of 12-8, 26-18 and 38-23 to end the regular season 4-1 with 21 points.
Only Guardian Group Pride of Villa who are 3-1 with 16 points and Pine Hill St Barnabas who are 1-1 with six points can equal the Firebirds to force a three game play-off for the title.St Barnabas are expected to win their remaining three games while Villa could be tested by a resurging Rangers.
Rangers matched the Firebirds up to the first eight points before Bishop and company took charge by scoring four uncontested points which set the tone of dominance throughout the match.
Veteran Olivia Walcott tried to match Bishop at the other end for the Rangers, scoring 22 goals from 26 attempts but her support cast of Tatyana Walrond (7/13) and replacement Tonisha Rock-Yaw (1/2) were not solid enough to reduce the constantly swelling lead from the Firebirds.
National player Rock-Yaw had started at centre where she was warned for deliberate obstruction and then in the fourth quarter when she assumed the goal attack role she was sent off for two minutes for repeating the foul.
That placed even greater pressure on Walcott who used her experience all night to evade the defence of the solid Diamond Hollingsworth and Shondelle Sandiford. Under-21 player Acacia Small enjoyed her return from injury with some plays that would attract the attention of any law officer as she committed numerous steals for the firebirds.
On the other hand, Kerri King and Natasha Birkette-Sealy were schooled regularly by Bishop who constantly waltzed out of the shooting circle to collect the ball, dished it and whizzed back into the circle to take a return pass
to score or mesmerised with some no look over the shoulder passes to Brathwaite.
With Firebirds outscoring Rangers 14-10 in the second quarter, the situation became hopeless when captain Rashanna Graham went off at 12-22 which punched more holes in Rangers’ midcourt.
Young Xhane Greenidge and then Jalissa Lovell were totally outmatched by Small, Joyann Cooke and an impressive Denise Forde for Firebirds to line-up for their first division one league crown. (KB)