Hosts England ensured a winning start to the Vitality Netball World Cup by overcoming a tough Ugandan side at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool this evening.
Tracey Neville’s Roses – looking to claim their first ever World Cup title – were dominant in the first and final quarters of the match against a physical Uganda side, who are ranked sixth in the world.
The Roses made a strong start against Uganda after making a spine-tingling entrance in front of their home crowd.
England were switched on from the beginning, with goal shooter Jo Harten – winning her 100th international cap – starting well, and Helen Housby soon following suit.
Despite the best efforts of She Cranes shooters Peace Proscovia and Rachael Nanyonga, the final five minutes of the quarter saw a calculated England move into a commanding position, leading 15-6 at the end of the first period.
The second quarter was a closer affair, with England appearing unsettled as Uganda remained persistent, with Proscovia and Nanyonga displaying impeccable precision in the shooting circle.
At the other end though, Uganda’s defence could not hold England back as Serena Guthrie, playing in her third World Cup, and Chelsea Pitman were able to feed the impressive Harten. Uganda’s increased confidence in the second quarter prevented England from dominating, but the hosts still led by 10 goals heading into the third quarter.
Uganda showed their physicality in defence as they attempted to hold off England in the third quarter, but the Roses were in complete control going into the final quarter, leading 44-24.
The fourth quarter was similarly competitive, and one foul too many meant that Uganda’s centre Stella Oyella was sent off the court.
The Roses found their second wind, and worked hard to play the ball into Rachel Dunn, who converted 17 from 19 shots after her introduction. England were equally as impressive at the other end of the court, dealing well with an increasingly physical game to only concede six goals in the final quarter.
In front of an appreciative home crowd, England ran out 64-32 winners to open their home World Cup in solid fashion.
England’s Rachel Dunn said: “Uganda are a really tough team, and after the test series we had against them last year, we knew they’d be a strong side. So getting them first out meant we had a few nerves to get over, but I think that performance sets a benchmark for us to build from.
“We felt the nerves in the warm-up, but I think the performance was good. The girls went out there and got a lead, and we didn’t look back from there.
“It was good to get a win, and a good win as well. It’s been a lot of years in the making, and it was great to get out there and get a win on the board in front of the amazing crowd.”
Also in action this evening were Scotland, who set up tomorrow’s encounter against England by also registering an opening-day win, beating Samoa 53-35.
Meanwhile, Jamaica inflicted a comprehensive 85-29 defeat on Fiji, and South Africa beat Trinidad and Tobago 76-45. That ensured a bittersweet day for Calypso Girls captain Rhonda John-Davis, who became the first player in World Cup history to appear at six different tournaments.
The first day of competition saw the curtain officially come up on the Vitality Netball World Cup 2019, with event partner Culture Liverpool showcasing some of the most iconic aspects of the host city to a global audience during the opening ceremony.
Earlier on in the day – during session 1 – Australia, New Zealand, Barbados and Zimbabwe all made winning starts.
Session 2 results:
Jamaica 85-29 Fiji (Group C)
England 64-32 Uganda (Group D)
South Africa 76-45 Trinidad and Tobago (Group C)
Scotland 53-35 Samoa (Group D)
The latest preliminaries stage 1 group tables are available here.
Courtesy of NWC 2019