England Roses 63-50 Jamaica Sunshine Girls

England’s Roses in full-bloom in Manchester

The Belle Vue crowd came to Manchester ready to get behind their Roses, urging them to level this series 1-all.

At 2-1, it was Jamaica with a turnover but Jhaniele Fowler-Reid missed a close range effort to give England possession back.

An incredible interception from Beth Cobden wasn’t converted by the Roses and a second dropped ball from Serena Guthrie from the Roses centre pass meant Jamaica went 4-2 up within five minutes.

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But Eboni Beckford-Chambers punished a feed across the circle picking up a great interception for Kadeen Corbin to make it 3-4, it was quickly Corbin again to make it four-all.

Footwork from Fowler-Reid gave England 5-4 with centre pass, then quickly six with Jo Harten making no mistake.

Shamera Sterling picked off a Jade Clarke feed, but our most capped Rose made up for it at the other end of the court with a tip, giving Harten another chance, and she made it 7-5.

An incredible flying interception from Beckford-Chambers wasn’t converted but the 2016 Team Bath captain gave her team another chance and Harten made sure the ball dropped the second time around.

Captain fantastic Ama Agbeze ensured the high feed wasn’t making its way in to Fowler-Reid with an incredible tip-and-take and England made it 12-7, quickly 13.

Beckford-Chambers and Agbeze worked tirelessly to put doubt into the feeders’ minds as the Jamaica attack repeatedly tried to force the high ball in to Fowler-Reid.

Three minutes on the clock in the first quarter and it was 14-7 to our Roses with them looking strong and confident.

Fantastic shooting from Harten set the tone for the Roses and they went ten up with just ten seconds to go in the quarter.

A feisty first quarter finished with an attacking contact call on Fowler-Reid with Agbeze certainly winning the battle of the captains.

England took first centre pass and lost possession but thanks to a Harten intercept, Corbin was gifted a shot underneath the post to take it to 18-7.

Cobden’s defensive timing proved to be second to none, collecting a huge take in the mid-court.

From the resulting play, Guthrie took a massive hit from Sterling but managed to feed the ball mid-fall. The play was stopped to bring it back to a penalty which Harten put away.

Defensive pressure continued into the second quarter with Cobden, Beckford-Chambers and Agbeze mounting the pressure on Fowler-Reid and her feeders.

A couple of thrown away balls cost England their centre passes but they held strong to sit 27-15 ahead with just over six minutes left in the half.

Cobden made a nuisance of herself in at WD picking off interceptions and tips, helping her circle defence colleagues with their heroics.

A physical battle for Harten with Sterling saw her take a few hits but her experience shone through and she remained composed under the post making it 32-19 with just 30 seconds left in the half.

Fowler-Reid sunk one last goal to finish the half off at 32-20.

Just one change for England at half-time, a straight swap – Stacey Francis for Beckford-Chambers, and that quickly paid off with Francis taking an early interception to make it 34-20.

Jamaica took a run of three in a row, then five at 36-26, but England made sure they maintained a lead keeping it to centre pass.

A neat feed in to Harten was appreciated by the Belle Vue crowd at 39-28 and from then the physicality of the game increased as the third quarter progressed.

England played for each other throughout this passage of play, congratulating one another with each ball forced too high, each interception and each goal.

Small victories all over the court helped the Roses to a 47-32 lead going in to the final quarter of this clash.

With an ice pack strapped to her knee, Francis sat the start of the last quarter out, bringing Beckford-Chambers back into the defensive mix.

The game went blow for blow in the opening moments of the final quarter until Jamaica handed England possession.

Some incredible link-up play between Corbin, Guthrie and Harten made for entertaining viewing for the Roses fans in the Manchester crowd.

With seven minutes left in the game, Francis replaced Beckford-Chambers once more.

More fantastic link-up play with Corbin and Harten made the score 59-43 and shortly after, Laura Malcolm replaced Cobden at WD to rapturous applause for both players with five minutes left in the game.

As the whistle blew for full-time, the score sat at 63-50 to England and the Belle Vue crowd erupted for their Roses.

This was a Friday to remember as England responded to their first match loss in emphatic fashion.

Tracey Neville’s side looked dominant and in control from the first quarter onwards and more than deserved this convincing win over the ever-tough Sunshine Girls.

Captain Ama Agbeze was named player of the match for keeping the seemingly unstoppable Jhaniele Fowler-Reid quiet for large periods of the game.

This wasn’t the only victory on the night for England as Emily Perry’s U21 Roses finished 46-41 winners over the Scottish Thistles in the evening’s curtain-raiser.

A spirited and determined second half from the U21 side gave them a win to be proud of on their road to Botswana 2017.

It’s all to play for in Coventry on Sunday, it’s time to #RisefortheRoses as they battle to take the title in this Vitality Netball International Series against Jamaica.

Roses starting 7: GS – Harten, GA – Corbin, WA – Guthrie, C – Clarke, WD – Cobden, GD – Beckford-Chambers, GK – Agbeze

Sunshine Girls starting 7: GS – Fowler-Reid, GA – Beckford, WA – K.Williams, C – Thompson, WD – V.Williams, GD – Facey, GK – Sterling

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