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Netball Quad Series: England Vitality Roses dismiss South Africa; Australia beat New Zealand

England's Vitality Roses impressed against South Africa, with George Fisher changing the contest in the second quarter; Australia overpowered New Zealand in the second match on Saturday; England face the Silver Ferns next on Sunday at 4.15pm

Georgina Fisher
Image: England started a Commonwealth Games year in impressive fashion against South Africa

England's Vitality Roses started a home Netball Quad Series and a Commonwealth Games year with an impressive 71-47 victory over South Africa at the Copper Box Arena.

Jess Thirlby's outfit were inspired by an exceptional performance from shooter George Fisher. The 23-year-old arrived at the start of the second set of 15 minutes and instantly clicked with Helen Housby, Nat Metcalf and Serena Guthrie in attack.

England's elevated work going forward was combined with great tenacity from their defenders, and the 21-goal quarter helped them take control of the match.

With a 37-24 lead at half-time, the Vitality Roses had considerable momentum going into the second half and once the 50-goal mark arrived, Thirlby used her bench to hand players opportunities to show that they deserve a place in her Commonwealth Games squad.

England Vitality Roses 71-47 South Africa

  • The greatest margin of victory in a Netball Quad Series match.
  • The first time England have won all four quarters in 18 attempts in a Netball Quad Series contest.
  • All 12 of England's Vitality Roses took to court at the Copper Box Arena.

Thirlby said pre-match that the Roses had arrived at the competition with "some good form" that had brought them series victories over New Zealand and Jamaica.

With the Commonwealth Games on the horizon in July and England entering it as defending champions for the first time, starting the year with a victory was their first chance to make a statement.

Serena Guthrie took the first centre pass and off it, the home side fired out of the blocks. They kept their foot on the gas for the majority of the quarter.

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In defence, Beth Cobden's long arms and astute reading of the game caused the experienced Bongiwe Msomi issues, while Geva Mentor marked her 150th cap with a plethora of interceptions.

England's Vitality Roses vs South Africa - Starting sevens

England's Vitality Roses South Africa
GS - Eleanor Cardwell GS - Ine-Marie Venter
GA - Helen Housby GA - Lefebre Rademan
WA - Natalie Metcalf WA - Bongiwe Msomi
C - Serena Guthrie C - Izette Griesel
WD - Beth Cobden WD - Khanyisa Chawane
GD - Layla Guscoth GD - Monique Reyneke
GK - Geva Mentor GK - Phumza Maweni

The home side were playing with confidence, however after creating a nine-goal lead, South Africa settled and reeled them back in to make it 16-13 at quarter-time.

The second quarter started as continuation of a battle of wills; South Africa's confidence grew with Msomi becoming more influential in attack and their work sharpening from post-to-post.

England took on South Africa in the first match of the 2022 Netball Quad Series
Image: The Vitality Roses thrilled their home fans at the Copper Box Arena in London

Thirlby had decided to hand Fisher an opportunity at quarter-time though, and her arrival changed the game.

The 23-year-old, who plays her domestic netball in New Zealand, linked incredibly with Housby. She put up shot after shot, made the circle her own and showed just how much she's gained from playing her domestic netball in New Zealand.

Vitality Roses vs South Africa - Quarter-by-quarter scores

Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 FT
England's Vitality Roses 16 21 16 18 71
South Africa 13 11 12 11 47

The result of Fisher's presence, and England's continued strength in defence, was a 21-goal quarter and a chance for Thirlby to test combinations throughout the second half.

Fisher remained a constant, but England's head coach was able to hand ample court time to Laura Malcolm at centre, and introduce Sophie Drakeford-Lewis at WA.

At the other end of the court, Thirlby also reintroduced the well-known defensive partnership between Mentor and Eboni Usoro-Brown as well as watching Imogen Alison at WD.

The changes did little to disrupt England, instead they continued to outplay South Africa and highlight how much the SPAR Proteas missed the presence of Karla Pretorius in defence in particular.

Netball Quad Series - Live on Sky Sports and Sky Sports YouTube channel

January 15, 2022 England 71-47 South Africa
January 15, 2022 New Zealand 39-53 Australia
January 16, 2022 Australia vs South Africa 2pm
January 16, 2022 Vitality Roses vs New Zealand 4.15pm
January 18, 2022 South Africa vs New Zealand 5.30pm
January 18, 2022 Vitality Roses vs Australia 7.30pm
January 19, 2022 Third vs Fourth 5.30pm
January 19, 2022 Final 7.30pm

Thirlby: Plenty to think about ahead of New Zealand

Despite such a comprehensive victory, Thirlby described the encounter as "a bit up and down" after and said it was one that had given them a lot to think about before meeting New Zealand on Sunday afternoon.

"There were moments that we were pleased with," Thirlby told Sky Sports on court.

"We actually started relatively well but then let them back in the game. You have to expect that from a side as classy as South Africa, they never give up.

England's Vitality Roses
Image: England's Vitality Roses will face New Zealand in their second match of the series on Sunday

"I was really pleased with the momentum shift in quarter two, we definitely needed that, but it was a bit up and down.

"However, to get all of the players out ahead of what is a really condensed couple of days, it will give us lots to think about overnight before New Zealand.

"I've got a role to play in helping build momentum but also trying to think about the next game," she added. "I believe in all of them in this group and I have to put myself out there and show that.

"There are some decisions going into Sunday with the likes of Jade Clarke and Stacey Francis-Bayman who weren't in today's squad. It continues to be a really healthy place to be [with squad depth]."

Watson leads Australia to storming victory

Liz Watson put in a captain's performance after 10 months out of the game to help the Australian Diamonds prevail over New Zealand 53-39.

Watson marked her return to court following foot surgery by orchestrating proceedings beautifully in the Diamonds' attack-end from the outset. Ash Brazill also showed that you can return to world-class levels following injury.

The Diamonds have won the Netball Quad Series more times than any other outfit, and under Watson's leadership they laid down their credentials again on Saturday afternoon.

New Zealand vs Australia - Starting sevens

New Zealand Australia
GS - Maia Wilson GS - Gretel Bueta
GA - Tiana Metuaru GA - Stephanie Wood
WA - Gina Crampton WA - Liz Watson
C - Sam Winders C - Paige Hadley
WD - Kayla Johnson WD - Ash Brazill
GD - Karin Burger GD - Joanna Weston
GK - Sulu Fitzpatrick GK - Courtney Bruce

From the start, Stacey Marinkovich's players looked relaxed and comfortable, while New Zealand struggled with their rivals' close body-on defensive style. The result was a 17-10 lead for Australia after 15 minutes and a 30-21 half-time advantage.

Grace Nweke's arrival for the Silver Ferns in the second quarter was fairly effective in changing the picture, however Australia were firmly in their groove.

New Zealand vs Australia - Quarter-by-quarter scores

Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 FT
New Zealand 10 11 8 10 39
Australia 17 13 17 6 53

Steph Wood and Gretel Bueta were outstanding in the Diamonds' shooting circle; each created ample space and put up their goals for fun for the entire time they were on court.

Despite New Zealand's players showing that they are able to learn on the job, the Diamonds kept them at arm's length.

In the final quarter, both coaches rung the changes which resulted in a slightly disjointed finish; however the Diamonds have well and truly highlighted their intent at the start of a Commonwealth Games year.

What's next?

The second day of the competition takes place on Sunday. England's Vitality Roses face New Zealand at 4.15pm, while South Africa will take on Australia in the earlier match with a 2pm first centre pass.

Watch every match of the Netball Quad Series live on Sky Sports and streamed on the Sky Sports YouTube channel. England's meeting New Zealand Africa is live from 4.15pm on Sky Sports Arena; Australia versus South Africa starts at 1.45pm.

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