Team England began their Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth games campaign recording their biggest- ever win against Trinidad and Tobago at the NEC Arena. A strong performance saw them achieve a 74-22 win with shooter Eleanor Cardwell scoring 30 goals with a 97% conversion rate.
Trinidad & Tobago Starting seven: Shaquanda Greene (GK), Aniecia Baptiste (GD), Janeisha Cassimy (WD), Oprah Douglas (C), Shantel Seemungal (WA), Joelisa Cooper (GA), Afeisha Noel (GS).
Substitutes: Tianna Dillon, Faith Hagley, Tahirah Hollingsworth, Tia Bruno, Jeresia McEachrane
Trinidad and Tobago were the first to open the scoring at Birmingham’s NEC Arena with a well-placed shot from the hands of goal attack Joelisa Cooper. Team England responded immediately with Jo Harten scoring England’s first of the competition.
Trinidad and Tobago positioned themselves well across the court and aimed to disrupt the pace of Team England’s attack but shooting partners Harten and Housby found their rhythm early on stretching the opposition’s defence.
Harten continued have no trouble converting her attempts at goal and with just under five minutes of the quarter to go, England’s score entered double digits.
[caption id="attachment_844272" align="alignright" width="334"] Helen Housby and Jo Harten celebrate their shooting partnership in England Netball's first game of the Commonwealth Games 2022. (Credit: Morgan Harlow)[/caption]
Captain Natalie Metcalf displayed her playmaking ability, firing feeds into the circle with her characteristic pinpoint accuracy. At the other end of the court debutante Layla Guscoth and Geva Mentor kept their composure, not allowing Trinidad and Tobago an easy route to goal.
At the end of the first 15 minutes, Team England led 15-6.
Following some great rotation with Housby in the circle, Harten scored the first goal of the second quarter and Team England’s confidence began to grow. Some creative passing up the court from Laura Malcolm and Natalie Metcalf saw England scoring six in quick succession without a goal from their opponents.
Head Coach Jess Thirlby looked to the bench, bringing Stacey Francis-Bayman on in the WD position in place of Jade Clarke. Francis-Bayman made an immediate impact and helped to dictate the pace of play in the centre of the court.
[caption id="attachment_844273" align="alignleft" width="301"] Stacey Francis-Bayman during the match against Trinidad and Tobago (Credit: Morgan Harlow)[/caption]
Jess Thirlby made a few alterations to the line-up for the beginning of quarter three, Eboni Usoro-Brown took to court in place of Geva Mentor, debutante Sophie Drakeford-Lewis replaced Nat Metcalf and Eleanor Cardwell took to the court in place of Jo Harten to make her first Commonwealth Games appearance.
With just over three and a half minutes remaining of the penultimate quarter, Imogen Allison entered the court in place of Jade Clarke, also making her games debut.
This quarter saw Team England score 19 unanswered goals, going from 33-9 to 52-9.
[caption id="attachment_844274" align="alignright" width="365"] Sophie Drakeford-Lewis during the match against Trinidad and Tobago (Credit: Morgan Harlow)[/caption]
The final quarter saw captain Natalie Metcalf return to the court and Sophie Drakeford-Lewis moved into the shooting end, adopting the goal attack position.
England had little trouble moving the ball through the court to increase their advantage. Drakeford-Lewis showed her agility finding Eleanor Cardwell with relative ease, who in turn increased England’s goaline with her 100% shooting accuracy on her Commonwealth Games debut.
The game finished 74-22, with England beginning their title defence with a strong start.
Team England continue their Commonwealth Games campaign in their next match against Malawi on Saturday 29 July 2022 starting at 2pm. Here’s a guide to the competition, including how you can follow all the action.
If you’re new to our sport and want to have a go yourself, we have programmes for everyone aged 5 to 95 from Bee Netball for children, to Back to Netball for those returning, to Walking Netball, a slower version of the game we love. Through the netball finder on our homepage, simply select play and enter your postcode and you’ll find a variety of sessions in your area.
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