England got their 2015 Netball World Cup campaign off to a flying start with a 60-19 success over Scotland in Sydney this morning.
It was far from plain sailing though for the Roses and they will be delighted to have had the chance to get a competitive match under their belts before they face a crucial showdown with Jamaica tomorrow.
The Sunshine Girls having secured a comprehensive 90-44 win over Samoa in the opening Pool B match earlier in the day, had set the standard.
England raced readily clear of the Thistles early on, it was only in a completely dominant final quarter that they started to shake off the rust and look at their imperious best.
The opening quarter had started well for the Roses with Jo Harten combining well with Pamela Cookey, the latter regularly finding space under the post to score.
It was an equally impressive start from the defensive duo of Eboni Beckford-Chambers and Geva Mentor, ably supported by the livewire figure of Serena Guthrie.
Although, as the quarter wore on, the errors started to come. The flowing passes from their earlier play had started to fall flat and possession was being squandered.
The lead should have been bigger but at the end of the first quarter it stood at 13-5.
Changes were immediately made for the second quarter with Sonia Mkoloma introduced at GD and Sara Bayman coming on at C. Guthrie and Jade Clarke were re-positioned, at WA and WD respectively.
Once again England came out firing, Clarke spotting Harten free in the circle and finding her with a rasping feed. Five goals in-a-row had the Roses support bouncing and the feel good mood continued when Guthrie combined a steal with a cartwheel.
The stubborn defence were monopolising space in the final third for the Scottish attack and it took the midway point of the quarter for them to find the net.
This seemed to signal another down turn in quality for England as a scrappy end to the half saw them fail to push on and the lead would be 27-11 at the interval.
In the build-up to the tournament, head coach Tracey Neville had demanded versatility from her team and several had the chance to show this as more changes were made for the third quarter.
Stacey Francis took to the court at WD and a new shooting duo of Helen Housby and Rachel Dunn were given game time.
The mid-court were working nice diagonals through the court and stretching the Thistles defence as they increased the advantage. The new shooters found their rhythm instantly, netting 15 from 16 attempts in the quarter.
Sara Bayman continued to pull the strings as the excellent England support in Sydney started to find their voice. With one quarter remaining, the Roses moved 42-17 ahead.
The further the game went, the better England looked and in the fourth quarter, they blew away their opponents.
A seven goal run was followed by another of ten as they upped the intensity and started to overpower the tiring Scottish legs.
The catalyst in the mid-court was the re-introduced Guthrie. The 2015 ANZ best new talent was covering the court at remarkable speeds, stealing possession in one breath before helping move the ball into the shooting circle in the next.
A bigger challenge lies ahead for the team tomorrow with a match that should realistically decide who tops the Pool.
If England continue where they left off this morning, Jamaica will have a job on their hands to stop them from getting there.
England starting 7: GS- Harten, GA – Cookey, WA – Greenway, C – Clarke, WD – Guthrie, GD – Beckford-Chambers, GK – Mentor
Scotland starting 7: GS – Sole, GA – Gallgher, WA – Murphy, C – Moore-McGrath, WD – Brownie, GD – Themann, GK – Mulheron
England – Shooting stats: Harten: 16/22 – 73%, Cookey: 11/12 – 92%, Dunn: 21/22 – 95%, Housby: 12/16 – 75%