The Vitality Roses withstood a stern She Cranes test as they defeated Uganda 64-51 to secure a 3-0 win in the Vitality Netball International Series.
In the final game at the Copper Box Arena in London, England overcame a fast start from the She Cranes to build a strong lead, which the Vitality Roses’ defensive prowess protected even as Uganda looked to find a way back.
England put in a dominant final quarter to seal the victory, as Fran Williams was named Vitality Player of the Series on her return to the red dress.
Vitality Roses starting seven: Funmi Fadoju (GK), Francesca Williams (GD), Zara Everitt (WD), Laura Malcolm (C), Hannah Joseph (WA), Eleanor Cardwell (GA), Olivia Tchine (GS)
Substitutes: Imogen Allison, Sophie Drakeford-Lewis, Alice Harvey, Chelsea Pitman, Ellie Rattu
Uganda starting seven: Falidah Kadondi (GK), Joan Nampungu (GD), Sandra Nambridge (WD), Margaret Baagala (C), Shakira Nakanyike (WA), Irene Erayu (GA), Mary Cholhok (GS)
Substitutes: Viola Asingo, Haniisha Muhammad, Rosette Namutebi, Shadia Nassanga, Proscovia Peace
After Uganda took an early three-point lead, a Funmi Fadoju intercept, on her first start for the Vitality Roses, inspired the hosts to take the advantage as her Pulse teammate Olivia Tchine levelled up the scores.
Intercepts kept flying in from the defensive partnership of Fadujo and Williams as they help England to a 17-11 lead after the first quarter.
Whilst Proscovia Peace was recalled at goal keeper for the She Cranes, the hosts continued where they left off and stretched their advantage.
Co-captain Imogen Allison bounced around the court and swept her way across the centre third to intercept another Uganda pass and push the Vitality Roses’ lead to nine.
The Copper Box Arena crowd were in fine voice every time Eleanor Cardwell and Tchine nailed a shot, and even gave their appreciation as Cardwell attempted a long-range effort after the buzzer. Despite the shot not going in, the fans celebrated the Vitality Roses heading to the break 32-22 up.
England started the second half patiently as they and the She Cranes traded goals; Tchine had a brief break after a sterling first half, but she returned to the court as substitute Sophie Drakeford-Lewis received some medical treatment for a knock to her nose.
Momentum swung between the two sides in the third quarter. First Uganda fought back to narrow the lead before the Vitality Roses stepped up their energy levels to restore a 10-point lead. Before they could relax, the She Cranes hit back minutes before the final break and took the quarter 18-13 to reduce the gap to just five going into the final decisive quarter.
Chelsea Pitman burst onto the court at wing-attack and acted as an important cog between Laura Malcolm and Cardwell as England quickly moved to 50 points.
Pitman executed a perfect no-look pass to Drakeford-Lewis, who returned to the court, outside the circle, before Cardwell landed almost in the splits to finish off a dynamic score as England once again began to motor.
With three minutes left on the clock, the Vitality Roses opened their biggest lead of the match, as fresh legs and well-drilled partnerships proved too much for the spirited She Cranes.
Drakeford-Lewis had the final say, as her shot just beat the buzzer to give the Vitality Roses a 64-51 win to go undefeated in the series.