Commonwealth Games: England clinical against Northern Ireland to remain unbeaten
England held a 38-15 lead at half-time and head coach Jess Thirlby used the 60 minutes to change up their line-up and run different combinations during the 71-27 victory; England take on Uganda in their next group match on Tuesday night and will aim to maintain their unbeaten record
Last Updated: 01/08/22 8:30pm
England made it three victories from three matches at the Commonwealth Games with a clinical 71-27 victory over Northern Ireland on Monday night.
The foundation for the result was laid by an outstanding first half, in which the home side missed just two of their 40 shots at goal.
In defence, England turned over the ball at will in order to keep Northern Ireland at arms' length and a 38-15 half-time lead set them on their way.
Throughout the match, head coach Jess Thirlby rotated her line-up to manage bodies given the unrelenting schedule of the competition, and England will now prepare to take on Uganda on Tuesday night.
Team England - Commonwealth Games fixtures and results
|Friday||England 74-22 Trinidad & Tobago|
|Saturday||England 66-41 Malawi|
|Monday||England 71-27 Northern Ireland|
|Tuesday||England vs Uganda|
|Thursday||New Zealand vs England|
|Saturday, August 6||Semi-final|
|Sunday, August 7||Final|
With the relentless nature of a Commonwealth Games schedule, Thirlby opted to release a starting line-up that hadn't started at a major competition before.
Sophie Drakeford-Lewis was handed a first start at a Commonwealth Games and was tasked with feeding Helen Housby and Eleanor Cardwell ahead of her.
Eboni Usoro-Brown, Stacey Francis-Bayman and Laura Malcolm were the trio selected to hassle Northern Ireland's attackers, while Jade Clarke provided outstanding experience at centre.
From the first whistle, Drakeford-Lewis attacked the match and set England's tempo. She used her pace to hit the circle edge at will and also took England's first interception of the afternoon.
England vs Northern Ireland - Starting sevens
|GS: Eleanor Cardwell||GS: Ciara Crosbie|
|GA: Helen Housby||GA: Emma Magee|
|WA: Sophie Drakeford-Lewis||WA: Michelle Drayne|
|C: Jade Clarke||C: Caroline O'Hanlon (c)|
|WD: Laura Malcolm (c)||WD: Niamh Cooper|
|GD: Stacey Francis-Bayman||GD: Fionnula Toner|
|GK: Eboni Usoro-Brown||GK: Michelle Magee|
After scoring the first three goals without reply, the home side continued to turn plenty of ball and be extremely accurate inside the shooting circle.
Cardwell's shooting percentage has been high throughout the competition, but Housby's needed work. Housby didn't miss during the first 15 minutes and finished the game having shot 20 from 20.
Northern Ireland gained and converted turnovers as the quarter continued though. Fionnuala Toner and Niamh Cooper used their Superleague experience to read England, but the Roses kept on responding and held an 18-9 lead after 15 minutes.
Following the first pause, Northern Ireland remained unchanged for the second quarter while England made further changes. Malcolm moved into wing attack, Drakeford-Lewis out to goal attack and Imogen Allison arrived at wing defence.
Immediately, Malcolm showed the fruits of her previous club relationship with shooter Cardwell and Drakeford-Lewis slotted superbly into the circle.
Michelle Magee and Toner did their utmost to disrupt England's shooters, but the early looks into Cardwell and the speed of Drakeford-Lewis couldn't be consistently matched.
England vs Northern Ireland - Quarter-by-quarter scores
England finished the first half having missed just two attempts at goal and with a 38-15 lead, the home side gave themselves the opportunity to enjoy the second 30 minutes at the NEC Arena.
Thirlby continued to amend her line-up during the third and fourth quarters. Housby had time at both goal shooter and goal attack, Cardwell was rested and returned, before Geva Mentor and Layla Guscoth stamped their authority in the closing stages in defence.
The result of Thirlby's change highlighted England's versatility as a 12-player squad and ability to produce clinical netball in any different scenario. Overall, the performance was a step up from their previous matches in Birmingham.
Another 24-hour turnaround awaits and the Ugandan She Cranes, with their formidable shooters of Mary Cholhok and Proscovia Peace, are next to meet the home side at 6pm on Tuesday.