England Roses start new era under Jess Thirlby with dramatic extra-time victory
Watch the second and third Tests live on Sky Sports and via our YouTube stream on November 30 and December 1
By Emma Thurston
Last Updated: 29/11/19 8:29pm
England's Vitality Roses started a new era under head coach Jess Thirlby on a dramatic winning note after their 63-58 extra-time victory in Cape Town.
Locked at 51 goals apiece going into the final minute, the Roses had the chance to seal the deal and finish the job in normal time.
However, they seemed to miscalculate the duration of the final 20 seconds and that produced a rushed (and missed) last shot by Eleanor Cardwell.
The first half of extra-time continued to go goal-for-goal with Thirlby's Roses edging it 57-56 and that familiar pattern continued until defender Fran Williams stepped up with five minutes to go.
Williams' textbook interception of a cross-court ball from South Africa's captain Bongi Msomi, ultimately provided the turning point. This time, England kept their eyes on the clock, worked it down well and went on to seal a memorable victory.
Literally on the edge of my seat!!!Yesssss Roses! 🌹 Super super proud! 1 down, 2 to go! Superb performance by @ECardwell11 such a strong target! Welcome back @StcyJyneFrancis, it’s like you never left and congrats to @JessThirlby & @nataliesymone 😘 @EnglandNetball #RosesRising https://t.co/F0VomCwKMs— Eboni Usoro-Brown (nee Beckford-Chambers) (@EboniBChambers) November 29, 2019
Thirlby went into the opening Test match with an air of positivity having praised her squad's 'training ethic and intensity' in the build-up and they needed every inch of that to see-off South Africa.
The home side were roared on by ardent support inside the Bellville Velodrome in Cape Town and had a point to prove working under their own new head coach - Dorette Badenhorst.
The Roses settled first, with both circles finding their feet and then working strongly in the opening quarter. The returning Stacey Francis and Williams gave GA Renske Stoltz a tough time while captain Nat Haythornthwaite released the ball early and sparked England's attack end at WA.
The result was a positive 28-23 lead after 30 minutes. However the tide turned in the third quarter when both sides made changes.
England moved Haythornthwaite to GA and introduced Laura Malcolm at WA while Lefébre Rademan arrived at GA for South Africa and was electric.
A six-goal victory in the quarter, winning it by 17-11, boosted the home side and told the story of England losing a touch of their fluidity and rhythm.
The changes remained for the Roses though and after a lengthy game of cat-and-mouse, Cardwell missed the chance to seal victory in normal time.
A positional switch between Clarke and Panagarry - the former moving back to WD and the latter shifting into C - finished England's match for them in extra time whilst South Africa re-introduced Msomi for the final seven minutes.
Ultimately, as the Roses' head coach said afterwards, it came down to the finest of margins.
With the clock running down, Msomi's pass was picked off by her former Wasps teammate Williams and that handed England a second bite of the cherry. This time, they took it to formally commence Thirlby's tenure on a winning note.
Tamsin Greenway's Player Ratings
|Stacey Francis - Her partnership with Fran was excellent, she controlled the game at the back and did enough to put LP off at key times. 8/10|
|Fran Williams - She was my player of the match, won the ball for England at key moments and was confident throughout the whole game. 9/10|
|Nat Panagarry - Great hustle and made it difficult for South Africa in the end third. 7/10|
|Jade Clarke - A really solid performance from the most-capped England player ever. 7/10|
|Nat Haythornthwaite - Started exceptionally well at WA and was controlling the game, went missing at times when she moved to GA. 7/10|
|Kadeen Corbin - Strong and powerful going to the post. A good first half. 7/10|
|Eleanor Cardwell - Challenged for player of the match. Strong under the post and available when England needed her. 8/10|
|Laura Malcolm - Solid defensively, strong onto the ball but needs to be more confident about letting the ball go. 7/10|
Both sides have a quick turnaround now with the first Centre Pass of the second Test taking place at 1pm on Saturday lunchtime.
The final Test will start at 11am on Sunday morning and both will be live on Sky Sports and streamed online via the Sky Sports YouTube channel.
Roses' head coach glad of insights
Thirlby was pleased to learn more about the 'match-winners' within her squad but wants the side to cut out the runs of goals against them in Saturday's second Test.
Badenhorst sees both sides of coin
South Africa's new head coach praised the work of both teams on court and reflected on the positive and negatives when it came to her team's performance.
Sky Sports is your home of netball and live action returns with this three-Test tour to South Africa. The second Test from the Velodrome in Cape Town will be shown on November 30 at 12.30pm and will be streamed worldwide on YouTube.