Blantyre — The Malawi Netball Queens lost to Jamaica 68-50 to earn a sixth place at the Vitality Netball World Cup on Sunday afternoon.
Both sides had won three times at the M&S Bank Arena prior to the Sunday encounter and had played each other three times at World Cups in the past, with Jamaica winning all of those encounters.
While Jamaica did conclude their tournament with a victory, this was their lowest finish at the World Cup since 1995 thanks to their previous results earlier in the week.
Heading into the game, they were disappointed not to have continued their record of playing in the last five bronze medal matches, including in Sydney in 2015, though their 100 per cent record in games against Malawi continued.
It was not long into the first quarter that Jamaica put down a marker, proving that they were determined to finish as high as possible in the competition despite not matching previous achievements.
Their goal shooter Jhaniele Fowler, who turns 30 on Sunday, opened the scoring after 14 seconds, finding space inside the circle and clinically dispatching a clean shot - the perfect start on her birthday.
It wasn't long before Fowler had plenty more reasons to celebrate as she and her team scored another 19 goals in the first quarter.
Her opposite number, the agile goal shooter of Malawi, Joyce Mvula, was picked out prior to the tournament as being one to watch. She, too, was heavily involved, but Malawi scored seven fewer times than their opponents to trail 20:13 at the 15-minute mark.
The first quarter, though, was not telling as to how the match would unfold as Jamaican ladies were made to work hard for their win.
Malawi pulled the score line back to 22-21 momentarily as they looked like overhauling their disadvantage before Jamaica slowed the onslaught. Malawi did draw level first at 24-24 and then 25-25, but the Sunshine Girls ended the quarter strongly, heading in for half-time leading 37-28.
That second quarter was a more reliable gauge on how the second half of the match would pan out, with Malawi looking threatening early on, before they ultimately succumbed to defeat.
The third quarter saw Jamaica increasing their lead in the overall match once again as they scored 15 of their own. With just 15 minutes to play, they were almost there in terms of the result, leading by 11 baskets.
Both Jane Chimaliro and Thandie Galleta of Malawi were playing their 50th match for their country, but they did not earn the win they would have wanted to mark that milestone with.
Jamaica won the final quarter, too, by 16 baskets to nine. Following a tournament in which they set out to achieve a little bit more, the win was a welcome end to their campaign as Fowler and company celebrated a closing-day victory.
Jamaica's Jhaniele Fowler said of her birthday win: "To win today was a good present; I didn't want that. I wanted a medal for my birthday, unfortunately I got fifth.
"We had a few turnovers which caused Malawi to come back, fortunately, we got ahead. As a leader, things will happen and we have to stand tall. You have to be the one who does the best that they can do to the best of their ability.
"A lot of things caused us to perform and be where we are at the moment. Hopefully, we can fix those and change those things."