The England Roses produced a perfect weekend to secure four wins from four at the Netball Europe Open to retain their title in Cardiff.
A new-look side took to the court across the three days of action with six players winning their first cap after pulling the red dress on for their debut.
A fascinating clash against the Scottish Thistles got England’s campaign underway on Friday afternoon.
After being named in the starting 7, it would be a memorable debuts for Vicki Oyesola and Josie Huckle. Sasha Corbin took on the role of captain for the first time on the international scene.
A tight opening half saw the Roses embroiled in a mid-court battle as a hard working Scotland side showcased endless energy to pressure the ball in all thirds. A slender 27-23 lead was taken.
The half-time break allowed two more new Roses enter the fray as Gabby Marshall and George Fisher made their first England appearances.
It continued to be a fascinating battle on court and despite the Roses defence starting to get on top, the Thistles remained resolute. Eventually a gap was produced which allowed England to see out a 61-48 success.
A busy Friday for the Roses saw them back in action at 8pm against Northern Ireland.
The strength of the squad was being utilised as Summer Artman was named in the starting line-up, becoming the fifth new Rose of the day.
There was no sign of the earlier match causing fatigue for England as they raced out of the blocks to take a 33-22 advantage at half-time.
An impressive attacking display in the second half took the game away as the Roses closed their opening day with a well-deserved 75-44 victory.
Saturday brought a fresh challenge for the Roses as they faced off against the South Pacific nation of Fiji, currently ranked 8th in the world.
However, it was to be a repeat of the previous evening as England started the game in imperious fashion. A 22-5 lead at the end of Q1 was extended to 40-16 by the half-time break.
The attacking prowess continued in the second half as final Roses debutant Sophie Drakeford-Lewis hit the court and shot at a faultless 100%. A 94-31 win for a Drakeford-Lewis inspired England.
Host nation Wales awaited the Roses in the final match on Sunday lunchtime. A number of jaw-dropping steals in the mid-court had England on front foot and helped push them into a 40-26 half-time advantage.
Second half changes failed to halt the England charge and a final score of 72-50 reflected the fine attacking display as the Roses clinched the Championship and lifted the trophy.
England Netball would like to thank Netball Europe, Welsh Netball and all of the fans, officials and volunteers for making the 2017 Netball Europe Open such a fantastic success.
You can next see the Roses in action this November in a three-match Vitality Netball International Series against the Malawi Queens in London and Birmingham. Get your tickets now!
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