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17 July 2019 | Uncategorized

Experimental England move closer to semi-finals

England all-but confirmed their place in the Vitality Netball World Cup semi-finals by making it five wins out of five with a challenging but ultimately comfortable 72-46 victory over Trinidad and Tobago.

England coach Tracey Neville again elected to ring the changes, with wing attack, Natalie Haythornthwaite, being given a place in a World Cup starting seven for the very first time.

Trinidad and Tobago started confidently, but some outstanding defence combined with accurate shooting meant that the Roses were soon in charge of their destiny.

Trinidad and Tobago continued to offer solid resistance, particularly in an early, second-quarter rally, but England’s further tactical changes injected a greater sense of purpose, and the Roses started to dominate the scoring exchanges, successfully closing out the match.

The Calypso Girls bounced their first centre pass out beyond the sideline, allowing Harten to open the scoring, while Rachel Dunn was twice dumped on the floor in quick succession before netting England’s third goal of the game.

Good work from Eboni Usoro-Brown, amongst others, allowed England to take a commanding lead, as Harten in particular found her groove in the circle.

The crowd – England were playing on the new, one-court layout for the first time in the tournament – were in buoyant mood, cheering the Roses’ every goal as the hosts extended their lead out to 20-12 after the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Francesca Williams came on in place of Usoro-Brown and got an early interception. However, Rachel Dunn – affected by an elbow injury – put in a couple of wayward attempts which Trinidad and Tobago seized upon, plundering the first three goals of the quarter.

Dunn, trying to shake off the injury, was replaced by Helen Housby – a change which saw England put their foot on the gas again, taking the score back out to 29-21.

Haythornthwaite and Housby in particular were combining well, and Harten was displaying her usual accuracy in front of goal – her 30th of the game saw England 39-23 up at half time, while their defence was also gaining momentum, snuffing out the threat of Samantha Wallace as the Trinidad and Tobago goal shooter went ten minutes between goals 11 and 12.

In the second half Housby and Harten both suffered couple of rare, straightforward misses, before giving the Roses a 43-27 advantage. Trinidad and Tobago were struggling to contain the speed of England’s mid-court players with several passes going astray, but Wallace was at least now having more of an impact on the game, shooting her fifteenth goal.

However a careless shot on her part saw England move 17 goals ahead, as Harten and Housby put their slow start to the quarter behind them. England led 56-33 going into the last 15 minutes.

Dunn made a welcome return to court for the fourth quarter, and was soon back on the scoresheet. Trinidad and Tobago profited from some England uncertainty to peg the score back to 60-38, with Khalifa McCollin becoming the first of their shooters to reach the 20-goal mark.

Neville, who had already given Chelsea Pitman some game time at centre, continued to rotate from the bench, with Serena Guthrie returning to court as England experimented with different combinations.

Some typical Guthrie interceptions were replicated by the likes of Housby and Usoro-Brown as England’s lead stretched out to beyond 25, with the home fans able to applaud their side off after an eventual 72-46 win.

England’s semi-final spot will be confirmed if South Africa beat Uganda this evening.

England’s Jo Harten said:

“I thought it was patchy in places, it was far from perfect, but overall we’re happy. We couldn’t be happier or more proud of ourselves to get to this point, but now there’s another step up tomorrow and into the weekend as well.”

Of her injury, Rachel Dunn said:

“My hand went numb because of a knock to the elbow. The feeling came back, it was fine, it’s just one of those – you kind of need your hand when you’re shooting! I just took a knock but it’s all fine now.”