The England Roses made an incredible comeback to win 45-42 in their final game of the Netball Quad Series against the South Africa SPAR Proteas.
Tracey Neville made one change from her previous starting seven with Jodie Gibson recording her first start of the series at WD.
Jo Harten was again unavailable having sustained a knock to her knee in England’s opener against New Zealand.
South Africa’s Rome Dreyer took the first centre-pass with the Proteas quickly getting the ball to Maryka Holtzhausen who opened the scoring.
The Roses were equal to it, feeding the ball through the court to Helen Housby who got England’s first goal.
With possession changing hands for a period in the first quarter some excellent work from Serena Guthrie ensured the ball was in the Roses’ hands. She fed Natalie Haythornthwaite who pushed the Roses out to a two-goal cushion halfway through the first quarter.
South Africa proved too strong in the final minute – Holtzhausen and Lenize Potgieter both scoring without reply and the Proteas went into the break leading 10-13.
Neville made a handful of changes at the first break – Clarke coming in at C with Guthrie moving to WD and Eleanor Cardwell coming in at GS and Housby moving to GA. Gibson and Haythornthwaite were the players making way.
The Roses started the second quarter brightly and brought it level through some sharp shooting from Cardwell.
But Potgieter, who shot at 90% for the game, had other intentions. She scored two goals without reply and with Holtzhausen adding another, the Proteas pushed out to a four-goal lead in the first five minutes of the second quarter (13-17).
Bongiwe Msomi, who recorded the highest number of feeds in the game (29), started to control centre court. Coupled with clinical shooting, the Proteas subsequently went into the half-time break with a seven goal lead at 20-27.
With more England changes at half-time, the momentum shifted and they started their comeback.
Ama Agbeze, who came on at GD for Layla Guscoth, managed to settle the English defence. Her and Geva Mentor both recorded a number of intercepts and rebounds throughout the quarter.
Guthrie and Haythornthwaite were equal to their defensive efforts and worked well together in attack. England were back within one as the third quarter finished 32-33.
The momentum again shifted as the teams came out for the final quarter with Ine-Mari Venter opening the scoring.
Housby, who shot at 89% for the game, unusually recorded two misses and with the Proteas capitalising on it, they pushed out to a five-goal cushion with less than eight minutes to go (36-41).
Fortunately for England there was a final change in momentum as it shifted back to the Roses for the final few minutes.
Guthrie turned over the ball twice which set Haythornthwaite and Housby on the attack, scoring a goal apiece and bringing it back within three (38-41).
Plenty of grit and character was shown from the Roses in the final stages and a total of seven goals went unanswered for England as they not only drew level but took a 44-41 lead.
After some cool shooting from Haythornthwaite and Housby, the game finished 45-42 and England recorded their second win of the Quad Series.
With Australia and New Zealand yet to play their final game, England’s finishing position in the Netball Quad Series is still unknown.
England’s starting 7 – Housby (GS), Haythornthwaite (GA), Pitman (WA), Guthrie (C), Gibson (WD), Guscoth (GD), Mentor (GK)
New Zealand’s starting 7 – GK – Maweni, GD – Pretorius, WD – van der Merwe, C – Dreyer, WA – Msomi, GA – Holtzhausen, GS – Potgieter