Tracey Neville’s Vitality Roses made a strong start against Uganda after making a spine-tingling entrance in front of the 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 Vitality Roses move into a commanding position, leading 15-6 at the end of the first period.
The second quarter was a closer affair, with the Vitality Roses 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 the Vitality Roses back as Serena Guthrie, playing in her fifth World Cup, and Chelsea Pitman were able to feed to the impressive Harten. Uganda’s increased confidence in the second quarter prevented the Vitality Roses 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 the Vitality Roses in the third quarter, but the Roses were in complete control going into the last 15 minutes, 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. The Vitality Roses were equally as impressive at the other end of the court, dealing well with a physical game to only concede six goals in the final quarter.
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.”
In front of an appreciative home crowd, the Vitality Roses ran out 64-32 winners to open their home World Cup in solid fashion.
Head Coach, Tracey Neville, said: “I’m really pleased to say that was our first game, I mean talk about an intimidating environment with all those England fans out there. There was a lot of nerves but we kept our control, which I’m really pleased with.
“For me to be in my home region and country and to think every game is sold out, I’m just so pleased about that. Thank you to the fans, the supporters that have invested in us and are at this competition.”