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England Roses lost their first game of the Vitality Netball International Series 49-66 to Jamaica on Tuesday night at the Copper Box Arena, London.

We caught up with England captain, Ama Agbeze, and Jamaica captain, Jhaniele Fowler-Reid after the match to gain their inside view of the game, and also their hopes looking forward to the rest of the series.

After going down 11-5 in the first quarter, Fowler-Reid instructed her team at quarter time: “Play hard and fight back. We have this in us and we just have to show that on the court.” The words seemed to stick with her team-mates as they managed to turn over a six-point deficit to finish the second quarter, and half time, leading 27-31.

Coming into the final quarter of the match she said: “The interception at 49-43 was massive, it was really important, it was a good thing we made it.” In what was to be the final momentum swing of the match, the outcome could have been very different if they had failed to overturn a strong England attack.

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Fowler-Reid insisted that the high passing of the Sunshine Girls is not only to utilise her to the best of the team’s abilities: “I always get pushed under the post, pushed up a lot. I know I have to shoot from anywhere I get them in the circle anyway.” Although, when Jamaica did get their high ball into the circle, the England defence had little chance to claim back possession.

When Roses captain Agbeze was switched into goal keeper she commented: “It’s a bit demoralising with those balls going over your head constantly, so it’s just those small victories – when the balls not quite high enough, or she fumbles, or misses her shot then that’s a tick next to my name.”

A part of England’s game is to take ownership and accountability for their position, and before the match started the team had clear instructions: “Make sure you do your own job, each person had their own individual targets that they had to meet and focus.” Agbeze added “We had done a lot of training with the link between defence and attack and reading off each other, it’s not really rocket science when you know your team.”

The link between the Roses started strong which Agbeze credited to the home support: “The energy and the link we had to a home venue and crowd, we just didn’t carry that on which isn’t really great.”

At the start of the night, in front of an English crowd, was a celebration for Jade Clarke, England’s most capped player of all time. Agbeze was thrilled: “It’s massive, netball doesn’t get that much recognition and so for her to get this many caps is amazing and to have been a part of it in that past and now while she’s still playing, I’m just really proud.”

The Roses and Sunshine Girls will face each other again on Friday night in Manchester for the second match in the Vitality Netball International Series.

Written by Go Girl competition winner Beth Gunter.

Photo Credit: Steve Porter

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