England Roses' fortitude impresses Tracey Neville and Eboni Usoro-Brown
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By Emma Thurston
Last Updated: 30/11/19 11:50am
After England Roses' 63-58 extra-time victory in Cape Town, Eboni Usoro-Brown and Tracey Neville were both impressed by the team's fortitude and Jess Thirlby's approach to the Test match.
The duo will be in the Sky Sports studio for the second Test, which starts at 12.30pm on Saturday, and are keen to see how the Roses progress after such a thrilling maiden Test."It was a typical Roses game that takes it to the wire and what was so pleasing was the way that a relatively inexperienced team came out with the win," Neville said to Sky Sports.
"I thought that it was really exciting. You know that there are times when you wish that you were a part of it… there were times in the game when I was glad that I was watching it on the TV!"
Roses start new era with dramatic win
England 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.
Usoro-Brown made her 100th international appearance for England under Neville at the Netball World Cup but has decided to take time out from the Roses for now in order to refresh after such an intense period.
The prolific defender made her international debut back in 2008 and with so many years of experience behind her, shared how many of England's Roses will be feeling in South Africa.
"From an athlete perspective, you really relish those opportunities. In one sense the pressure is off, you've just been given an opportunity and you've been asked to go out there and perform," Usoro-Brown said.
"In terms of the results, it's managed appropriately [early on in a cycle]. We know that we're in a development phase and yes the win is the ultimate goal, but again that exposure is what the priority is for that Test and for this tour.
"As an athlete, it just allows you to have the freedom to show your best especially when we're so far out from the next major tournaments that will be coming up."
I like to class it as inexperienced familiarity. You can tell the time that the Roses have spent together, it benefited them in the crucial moments, and helped them come out of that game with a win. South Africa didn't seem to have that composure or that familiarity with their new combinations - even though they had some relatively experienced players on that court.
England's Roses opened out a 28-23 lead after 30 minutes in Cape Town and after words at half-time, both head coaches changed their line-ups.
South Africa's introduction of Lefebre Rademan at GA was hugely positive for them while Thirlby moved captain Natalie Haythornthwaite to GA and introduced Laura Malcolm at WA.
England's third quarter saw them lose a touch of fluidity and punch in their attack end, and South Africa took it by 17-11.
However, the line-up remained the same for the rest of the match, baring a positional switch between Jade Clarke and Natalie Panagarry in the final block of extra-time, something that Neville was pleased to see.
"I thought that as a fan you might have made some rash changes and changed it back [in England's attack end]," she said.
"But, I really do believe that the objective that Jess has set out is to really invest in the Roses and the players and give them the experience to see how they come through it. I thought that they did that exceptionally well yesterday."
The Roses and South Africa both have to manage tight turnarounds, with the third Test having an 11am first Centre Pass on Sunday.
"It will be interesting to see what Jess (Thirlby) does," Neville said.
"Is she going to start with the same seven to get some consistency? Hopefully they start better, get some confidence from that and then she looks to make changes?
"Eboni and I have just been talking about it and we wondered if there's exposure for Razia Quashie who did really well in the last international series last year and George Fisher who played exceptionally well at Superleague?
"Obviously Sophie Drakeford-Lewis too who hasn't been exposed at international level before.
Playing with her at Bath it's been awesome to see how she's developed over the last year, I think that she's really grown in maturity but also confidence. She's a perfectionist but over the last year at Bath we've got her to relax a bit more and that's brought the best out of her and out of her game.
Eboni Usoro-Brown discussing Sophie Drakeford-Lewis
"I feel that we've got a really good level of stability across the court with Stacey Francis, Natalie Haythornthwaite and Jade Clarke and then it's how Jess adapts the team and the combinations."
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.