Funmi Fadoju at U21 Netball Europe.

England got off to the perfect start at U21 Netball Europe as they beat Northern Ireland 83-20 at the University of Worcester Arena.

This young England side, up against strong and physical opposition, looked to secure victory in their opening game of the tournament.

England U21 Head Coach Karen Greig was able to give all 12 players court time, which included four players who were a part of the winning team at Netball Europe Open a week prior.

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England got off to an impressive start with excellent shooting from Berri Neil, which helped see the hosts race away to a two-goal lead in the opening seconds.

Strong defensive pressure from Funmi Fadoju and some on point defensive blocks from goal keeper Alice Harvey restricted Northern Ireland to few opportunities in the first 15 minutes.

The young England side capitalised on their advantage in possession and continued to feed the ball into Berri Neil and Emilia Roscoe in the shooting circle. Their ruthlessness in front of the net ensured that their side went into the first interval 21-7 up.

After the break, Greig’s side continued to apply pressure on their opposition and further extended their lead in front of their home supporters.

Those in attendance were treated to an astute performance from the home team who found themselves 44-9 in front on the half-time whistle.

After a team talk from Head Coach Hannah Willis, Northern Ireland produced their best 15 minutes of the game after stepping back onto court for the second half, scoring six and restricting England to 19.

Several turnovers late in the third quarter, however, meant that the team in white and red extended their lead to 48 goals.

Karen Greig rang the changes throughout this encounter, rotating many of the players, 10 of which have been included in the long squad for the 2021 Netball World Youth Cup.

Top work from captain Hannah Williams and Alicia Scholes meant England continued to remain on target and raised their score substantially during the last quarter. England capitalised their dominance in emphatic fashion to end win the game 82-20.

Berri Neil said: “I think it was really good, it was the first time as a big group we’ve all really trained together and played together so I think we’re all really happy with that performance.”

The victory signalled the perfect way to begin the tournament ahead of their meeting with Wales tomorrow evening.

Hannah Williams said: “Every match is going to be hard and every match is going to be tough but we’ve got it in the locker. We just need to go out there against Wales and do what we did again today.”

England starting VII: Alice Harvey (GK), Funmi Fadoju (GD), Stacey Tankoua (WD), Yasmin Roebuck (C), Hannah Williams (WA), Berri Neil (GA), Emilia Roscoe (GS).

Northern Ireland starting VII: Rebecca McCullough (GK), Michelle Magee (GD), Maveve Blaney (WD), Meabh McCambridge (C), Laura Mills (WA), Frances Keenan (GA), Dearbhla Coleman.

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