England successfully defended their U21 Europe Netball title in an impressive display over three days of competition.
Sheonah Forbes’ side completed a clean sweep of victories over the Isle of Man, Northern Ireland and Wales in their first international competition since March 2020.
After not having long together as a squad to prepare, the reigning champions looked strong and composed throughout as Northern Ireland secured silver, Wales came third and Isle of Man finished fourth.
The young Roses opened against hosts Isle of Man and quickly laid down a marker of intent, limiting their opposition’s chances while being clinical in taking their own to establish a healthy lead.
England continued to push on and extend their advantage while implementing new strategies with four players – Jayda Pechova, Halee Robinson, Isabelle Eaton and Aliyah Zaranyika – winning their first caps.
Vitality Roses Head Coach Jess Thirlby, who was enjoyed the 14-111 victory via YouTube, was impressed by what she saw and encouraged the squad to “stay curious, keep demanding more, play with a smile on your face and pride in your heart.”
The young Roses did just that as they stepped up and took on Northern Ireland in their second game of the competition.
England got off to a strong start once again and were 17-8 up at the end of the first quarter.
Northern Ireland were leaving everything out on court though and Forbes’ team had to remain focused to withstand the pressure and adapt to their opponent’s game.
They made it two from two running out 65-32 winners before a spot of sea recovery to help them recharge and refresh ahead of the third match.
Going into the final day of the competition and their game against Wales, England were the only side with a perfect record still intact (Northern Ireland: W1, L1; Wales: W1, L1; Isle of Man: L2).
The opening stages of the contest between the young Roses and their Welsh counterparts were tightly contested with the sides all square with six minutes of the first quarter remaining.
But England capitalised on their chances and accelerated away to have a commanding 6-17 lead after 15 minutes and continued to assert themselves throughout the contest to seal a 32-63 victory and the gold medal.
At the presentation ceremony, Zaranyika was named Player of the Tournament after a series of impressive displays.
Congratulations to the players, coaches and wider support staff on a fantastic victory, and thank you to all those who worked behind the scenes to make this competition possible.
|Friday 12 November||Isle of Man 14-111 England
Wales 34-37 Northern Ireland
|Saturday 13 November||Wales 63-30 Isle of Man
England 65-32 Northern Ireland
|Sunday 14 November||Wales 32-63 England
Isle of Man 27-62 Northern Ireland
You can watch all the games back on Europe Netball’s YouTube channel.