The Vitality Roses head into game two 1-0 up in the Vitality Netball International Series after fending off a late surge from the SPAR Proteas on Tuesday evening.
Jess Thirlby’s side raced into an eight-goal lead at half time but the visitors fought their way back, winning the third and fourth quarters and lost by just three goals at the end.
Despite a nervy finish, Jess Thirlby was able to field five players for their home debuts and test several new connections for the first time in front of a record home crowd at the AO Arena.
Ones to watch:
Continuing from where she left off at the Netball World Cup, Imogen Allison put in a stellar performance for England in the middle of the court, registering the most feeds between the two sides and three interceptions – joint highest with captain Fran Williams. As one of the more experienced members of the team, Allison will be a key player for the Vitality Roses heading into the weekend.
She's here, there and everywhere 👏
— England Netball (@EnglandNetball) December 5, 2023
Making her home debut in her local region, Berri Neil enjoyed two solid quarters alongside Eleanor Cardwell in England’s shooting circle. The 20-year-old showed no nerves when called upon to take on the penalty shots and was clinical under the post converting 10 out of her 11 attempts. Fans will be hoping to see more of the young London Pulse shooter in the second and third tests.
Much of South Africa’s dominance in the final quarter came down to some brilliant defending from Jeante Strydom who made three gains in the last 15 minutes. Whilst the ANZ Premiership star is still relatively inexperienced, her connection with the SPAR Proteas’ defence looks to be growing stronger game-by-game.
At the other end, another of South Africa’s rising talents Kamogelo Maseko grew in confidence during game one. After being introduced after the first break, she put up six goals for the visitors in the final quarter. The 21-year-old has six caps to her name so far and in October, she put in a notable performance against the world champions Australia, scoring 20/23 in their test match in Hobart.
Where to watch:
Tune in to the second match of the Vitality Netball International Series live on Sky Sports Mix and YouTube from 16:45. Fans in South Africa can watch the action on SuperSport and fans elsewhere around the world can watch the remaining tests through Netball Pass for £9.99.
Keep up to date with what’s happening inside the England camp by following us on our socials: @EnglandNetball.