England battle past South Africa to take grip on second place

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England were able to secure a vital win against the Proteas this afternoon to tighten their grip on second place in Pool B following a 41-35 victory. A slow start to this tightly contested game saw South Africa lead at the interval before Anna Mayes’ side were able to swing the momentum and secure the win with a solid second half display.

From the opening centre-pass, England raced out the blocks with Jo Harten scoring the first goal of the game, executing a fine shot when off balance. Tight defensive pressure and off the ball movement throughout court from both teams saw the score levelled at 2-2 after the first five minutes.

Serena Guthrie made a beautiful interception from the circle edge with the ball swiftly moved down to Kadeen Corbin who sank a long range shot with confidence. Despite the players in red applying pressure on the ball, tight opening passages and strong circle movement from South Africa gave the opponents a one goal lead 9-8 at the end of the opening quarter.

Rachel Dunn replaced Corbin as Q2 got underway. England were struggling to free players in attack and convert from our defensive turnovers, it was 12-12 heading in to the last ten minutes of the first half.

South Africa were managing to find space in the circle scoring with accuracy to punish the mistakes made from our centre passes. Defensive pressure from Geva Mentor, Eboni Beckford-Chambers and Jade Clarke caused opportunities for England, however the curse of the unconverted turnover by mis-timed balls into the circle struck with disturbing frequency.

This allowed the Proteas a chance to level. A quick connection between Harten and Serena Guthrie, followed by another fabulous intercept by Guthrie, allowed Harten to net a stunning goal in the last three seconds, bringing the score to 19-17 in England’s favour at the end of the first half.

There were many changes made entering the second half with Stacey Francis and Sara Bayman coming on as GD and C respectively, Guthrie was switched to WD and Clarke to WA.

Slight inaccuracy from the Proteas attack and Francis’ defensive pressure and speed allowed the new players to link up beautifully, to give a rosier tint to the score. With Bayman providing continuous options and growing confidence in the shooting circle, England were able to extend their lead to five goals after five minutes.

Dunn showed class with a wonderful piece of defensive work to ghost in for a tip before quickly making her way to the circle to sink a shot from the resulting move. Increased intensity and tempo was seeing improved results, Harten closed the third quarter with a composed penalty shot to make the score 34-25 going in to the final quarter.

No changes were made to the line-up and continued defensive pressure from the players in red saw Clarke male a beautiful tip which allowed Harten to put the first goal of the final quarter on the board.

Despite the South African attack finding the space through the England defence, they were able to sustain their lead thanks to the movement of the attack, finding space in which to feed the shooters who in turn effortlessly converted.

Another stunning tip by Mentor saw England make the score 40-31 entering the final five minutes.. The final two minutes of the game was filled with frantic play and loose balls as both sides tried to clinch the final few goals; however, England maintained their lead making and saw the game out to claim a vital success.

Next up for the team is a clash against Trinidad & Tobago on Tuesday morning, with a rest day on the horizon tomorrow. Stay updated with the England squad in Glasgow by following England Netball on  and .

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