The Vitality Roses will face familiar foes in the form of the Scottish Thistles in their second Vitality Netball World Cup fixture on Saturday 13 July.
Scottish Thistles have consistently appeared on netball’s biggest stage, qualifying for 13 editions of the Vitality Netball World Cup since the tournament’s inception in 1963. They are one of just seven nations to have hosted the competition, in 1987, but their greatest result remains their trio of sixth-place finishes in 1971, 1975 and 1983 respectively.
Scotland are currently at an all-time high of seventh in the INF world rankings and qualified by overcoming home nation rivals Wales and Northern Ireland at Regional Qualifiers – Europe last year. Gail Parata’s side will be looking to improve on their performance at the 2015 World Cup, where they finished 12th.
Ones to watch
Ella Gibbons (GD, GK) –
This will be Ella Gibbons’ first experience of a World Cup and she will play a vital role in the Scottish Thistles’ performance this summer. At 6’3, the 24-year-old featured as goal defence and goal keeper for Strathclyde Sirens during the 2019 Vitality Netball Superleague season. Gibbons formed part of a defence that conceded just 995 goals.
Claire Maxwell (C, WD) –
Playmaker Claire Maxwell (right) will captain the Scottish Thistles in Liverpool and will secure a coveted century of caps during the opening stages of the competition. The pacey centre and wing defence started playing at primary school and has gone onto captain her country as well as Strathclyde Sirens.
Nicola McCleery (C, WA) –
Centre and wing attack Nicola McCleery is another set to make her World Cup debut in Liverpool. At 23, she has developed into a core player for the Scots thanks to her energy and work ethic.
The Scottish Thistles’ squad selection means that all ten Vitality Netball Superleague sides will be represented at the Vitality Netball World Cup this year. Eleven of the 12-strong squad play for Strathclyde Sirens including teenager Emma Barrie, who was nominated for Sky Sports Fans’ Player of the Year Award.
Scotland’s first ever international game came against England during the 1947/48 season, commencing a rich rivalry between the two nations. The Vitality Roses were triumphant in that meeting and similar success has continued in recent years.
Most recently, Tracey Neville’s side overcame the Scottish Thistles 74-28 at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. In fact, the Vitality Roses have won their last five encounters since 2013 including a 60-19 victory at the 2015 World Cup in Australia.
Scottish Thistles Squad in Full
Emma Barrie, Kelly Boyle, Lynsey Gallagher, Ella Gibbons, Bethan Goodwin, Sarah MacPhail, Claire Maxwell (Captain), Niamh McCall, Nicola McCleery, Hayley Mulheron, Emily Nicholl, Lauren Tait.
By Conor de Smith
Photo credit: Eliza Morgan