The England Fives started their 2013 Fast5 Netball World Series campaign in mixed fashion today as they ended they ended the play with one loss and one win. In the first match for the Fives they faced old rivals Australia, known as the Fast5 Flyers for this competition. A master class of shooting from Susan Pratley saw the Flyers race out of the block and into a commanding 8-0 lead early on.
A late two point goal success from Rachel Dunn narrowed the gap as the first quarter came to a close. Young Team Bath shooter Rosie Allison then hit the Fives’ first Super Shot of the competition to pull England even closer. However, Pratley continued to be deadly from the outer circle and with the support of Carla Dziwoki, Australia were 14-9 in front at half-time.
The Flyers took their PowerPlay in the third quarter as England looked to restrain their potent attacking threat. It seemed ominous from the opening stages that Australia had learned from their mistakes of the previous year and would capitalise on this advantage. A flurry of successful attempts saw them race clear, 36-13 with six minutes remaining.
It was England’s turn for the PowerPlay in the final quarter and the question to be answered was, could the Fives overcome the scoreboard pressure to make a remarkable comeback? In an attempt to reduce arrears a couple of Super Shot attempts failed to find the target and this allowed Australia to stay in front. The third quarter had sealed the Flyers win and England were finally defeated 40-19.
In this format of the game there is very little time to dwell on any losses and just under two hours later the Fives were back on court, this time to face a now familiar foe in the South Africa Proteas. The toss decided the PowerPlay quarters and once again England would look to capitalise in the fourth.
Proving to be a thorn in the England side once again was Chrisna Bootha who was in fantastic form and had South Africa ahead early on. Dunn netted a Super Shot to level things at 5-5 but a last minute score Bootha had the Proteas with their noses in front at the end of the opening quarter.
With the action remaining tight, it took the experienced Dunn to make the difference as she again made a fabulous attempt from outside the circle for three. The Fives had moved 13-10 in front at the interval.
The Proteas took the PowerPlay in the third quarter and Bootha continued to make shots from the outer circle, doubling up for four point goals. It was proving trickier for the opposition to break through this time though and the defensive work from Stacey Francis, Lindsay Keable and Layla Guscoth prevented a repeat of the previous match. South Africa managed to nudge ahead but by only four goals, 22-18 with the England PowerPlay to come.
An early Super Shot from Allison counted as six and pulled the scores level at 26-26 early in the final quarter to settle the nerves. With the game all square, the Fives held the advantage of the PowerPlay. With 90 seconds remaining the Fives held a solitary goal lead and it was down to Allison to finally settle proceedings with another awe inspiring Super Shot to clinch a 36-29 victory for England and chalk up our first win of the tournament.
At the end of proceedings New Zealand remain the only unbeaten team with two wins from two and they are joined at the top of the table by Jamaica and Australia who each have two wins from three fixtures. England lie in fourth place with Malawi and South Africa yet to register on the points table.
The action begins again tomorrow morning with England facing Jamaica in their opening game of day two at 3:15am GMT. Clashes against Malawi and New Zealand follow with the group stage coming to a close.
You can follow all of the action live via the official England Netball twitter and facebook pages with Sky Sports 2 showing match coverage and highlights from 10am.