England v Australia

International Netball Series 2013

England Netball is delighted to announce the squad for the upcoming three-match International Netball Series against Australia. Once again the team is a mixture of promising youngsters and experienced campaigners as England look to upset the side officially recognised as the best in the world.

Continuing from her role at the Jamaica Series in September, Pamela Cookey has been named as Captain with Sara Bayman fulfilling the duties as vice-Captain. A notable addition to the squad is that of Natalie Haythornthwaite, the Yorkshire Jets mid-courter will be hoping to win a debut cap in the Series after her promotion from the U21’s.

A trio of the team will be reacquainting themselves with familiar foes as Joanne Harten, Eboni Beckford-Chambers and Stacey Francis are set to face a host of names from the ANZ Championships in which they competed in earlier in the year.

The opening match of the Series takes place at the University of Bath on Sunday 20th January. The contest then heads to London with game two being contested at Wembley Arena on Wednesday 23rd with the final, and potentially crucial, fixture being played out at the NIA Birmingham on Saturday 26th.

England 58 Australia 53

20 Jan 2013 17:30PM

University of Bath

Incredible 58-53 victory only third ever against Australia as hosts open up 1-0 Series lead

A capacity crowd in Bath witnessed a historic match between England and the reigning World Champions as Anna Mayes’ side beat the Diamonds for only the third time.

The hosts shot out of the block and raced ahead in the opening quarter and looked in cruise control with an eleven goal at the interval. The expected Aussie fight back threatened to silence a boisterous crowd but some composed shooting in the closing stages from Pamela Cookey and Joanne Harten saw England over the line.

The queues stretched outside of the Sports Training Village at the University of Bath as the weather which had put the match in doubt failed to dampen the mood of the supporters. With noise reaching a crescendo as the teams were announced on court, the stage was perfectly set.

As is usually the case at the start of an international Series, the team were feeling each other out in the opening exchanges and the score was 5-5 early on. England started to grow into the game and were applying excellent defensive pressure through Eboni Beckford-Chambers and Ama Agbeze, who can consider herself a veteran of the side after collecting her 50th cap tonight.

The Diamonds were fighting hard and when the ball arrived in the hands of Catherine Cox and Susan Pratley, they were rarely missing but the flow wasn’t as constant as the few visiting fans in attendance would have expected. At the end of the opening quarter England had moved into a 17-12 lead.

A lightning quick start to the second quarter saw the advantage stretch to eight as Sasha Corbin combined brilliantly with Cookey and Harten to punish turnovers. However, Australia are world champions for a reason and they showed phenomenal spirit to level scores at 22-22 as the England shooters showed their first signs of tension.

Some in attendance may have expected the Diamonds to assert themselves on proceedings and take the game away from their hosts but excellent work in the mid-court from the ever reliable duo of Serena Guthrie and Sara Bayman saw England roar back into the lead with the momentum firmly in their camp.

An astonishing end to the half saw the hosts head into the changing rooms 33-22 ahead, eleven goals without reply in four minutes at a crucial moment in the match had the crowd purring with delight. A pitfall of previous England performances has been consistency and Head Coach Anna Mayes has been keen to express in the media pre-Series that this would be a vital improvement. The second half would provide a glimpse into the progress.

The only change for the hosts was in the defensive circle as Stacey Francis replaced Agbeze who had required a medical time-out in the second quarter after taking a slight knock to the ankle. However, the depth of England has much improved and Francis was a more than adequate substitute to introduce.

Early composure from the team was keeping the opposition at arm’s length and although the basic errors were continuing to grow, the lead remained intact. Much like the previous quarter England started to wobble midway through and the Diamonds scented blood. Attack after attack reigned in on the hosts circle and with the introduction of Caitlin Bassett and Erin Bell, Australia had their tails up.

The ball was failing to stick in English hands and turnovers were being exquisitely punished by the visitors as they drew to within four, 43-39 at the end of the third quarter. It as a simple equation for the England team, goal for goal with the Aussies in one quarter and they seal the win. The opening few minutes went with the script and the crowd were a mix of hope, belief and tension in the stands.

More loose ball allowed the Diamonds to close the gap, down to two with ten minutes to go. Cookey and Harten persevered and refused to lie down at the other end of the court and the lead was back out to seven midway through the quarter.

It was a real toe-to-toe contest in the final few minutes as both shooting duo’s kept calm under the incredible pressure. The belief was starting to turn into realisation as the clock run down on the Diamonds revival. England slowed the play and a wonderful through court move with Bayman, Cookey and Harten finally sealed the win with less than two minutes remaining. The gap was too big for the world champions to broach and the heart finally fell out of the side.

The crowd screamed down the last ten seconds and as the umpires blew the final whistle, emotions erupted on the court and in the stands. A phenomenal and well deserved win. The Australians showed the spirit and class that is abundant in their squad but on the day England were worthy winners and have wrestled the advantage as the teams head to Wembley on Wednesday night.

England starting 7: GS – Harten, GA – Cookey, WA – S.Corbin, C – Guthrie, WD – Bayman, GD – Agbeze, GK – Beckford-Chambers

On the bench: Shaw, Dunn, K.Corbin, Francis, Keable

Australia starting 7: GS – Cox, GA – Pratley, WA – Browne, C – Hallinan, WD – Gerrard, GD – Gomes, GK – Bulley

On the bench: Bassett, Bell, Ravaillion, Letton, von Bertouch

Umpires: Joel Young-Strong and Liz Boon with Theresa Prince as reserve

Shooting Stats:
England: Harten: 33/38 – 87%, Cookey: 25/27 – 93%, Team: 58/65 – 89%

Australia: Cox: 13/16 – 81%, Pratley: 9/10 – 90%, Bassett: 23/25 – 92%, Bell: 8/9 – 89%, Team: 53/60 – 88%

England 51 Australia 49

23 Jan 2013 19:30PM

Wembley Arena

England wrap up Series with sensational victory over Diamonds

History made as England defeat Australia 51-49 in a fiercely competitive clash

England had over 7,000 screaming fans rocking Wembley Arena this evening with an incredible two goal win over the World Champions. In a game in which both sides had the opportunity to pull away from their opponents, England held their nerve and showed phenomenal spirit, character and belief to see out the game and in doing so, clinched a first ever Series win over their old rivals.

The match was brilliantly set after the opening encounter in Bath; however, on the last visit of the Diamonds in 2010, England had taken an early lead only to surrender the advantage. The opening exchanges in London gave an ominous hint that history may well have the horrible habit of repeating itself.

A miss from the opening centre-pass had the Australian side surging forward to score through prolific shooter Caitlin Bassett. At the other end of the court Joanne Harten and Pamela Cookey were battling hard to pull England back into the game but the gap remained. Every time a shot from the hosts did find the net, the cacophony of noise felt like the sound barrier was being repeatedly broken by an excitable crowd.

The visitors were definitely employing a tactic of sticking closer to the home side with plenty of contact being called in the opening quarter as Joel Young-Strong and Theresa Prince stamped their authority on proceedings. The tactic seemed to fluster England somewhat and at the end of the opening fifteen minutes the Diamonds were 15-11 ahead.

An early change was made by Anna Mayes as Stacey Francis replaced Ama Agbeze. The consistent breaks in play for contacts and obstructions were working to Australia’s advantage as England struggled to build any momentum or rhythm. The scores remained tight but the flair and swiftness of movement from three days previously was yet to come to the fore.

As the half neared an end, the hosts found their feet. Direct, fluid feeds into the circle started to find their target. Eboni Beckford-Chambers and Francis were combining excellently in defence to halt the Diamonds assault on goal. With a couple of minutes to go before the interval, Harten levelled the scores at 25-25.

England then had the chance to finally push ahead but an effort from Harten bounced out from range and the Aussies pounced as champions do and took a narrow 27-26 advantage into half-time.

In a bid to mix up the mid-court, Kadeen Corbin replaced sister Sasha but took the GS bib. Harten pushed into GA with Captain Cookey moving to WA. The changes worked well as the youthful Corbin instantly linked well in the new attacking combination, but it was the defensive brilliance of Beckford-Chambers which forced turnovers and saw England nudge into a three goal lead early in the third quarter.

Madison Browne then hit the deck with an injury as the Diamonds used a medical time-out to take the sting out of the England momentum. This failed to stop the hosts and another athletic rebound saw Beckford-Chambers emerge with the ball and set England on their way to goal. The increased tempo suited the hosts flowing play.

It is never wise to discount the Diamonds and when Corbin was called for contact and the turnover converted, the visitors saw a way back into the game. In the blink of an eye they were within two. Bassett pulled them back to just one away and the tension returned to the stands at least.

The comeback was complete from the girls in Green and Gold as the ever reliable Bassett levelled proceedings at 36-36. It was down to the defence to get England swinging again and they delivered in a big way, a brilliant turnover provided the shooting duo of Harten and Corbin the chance to move England clear and they did just that, 40-37 heading into the final quarter.

With England having finally moved ahead over their rivals, Mayes stuck with the same seven to see the job out. A rapid start to the final fifteen minutes saw the hosts stretch six goals clear, the crowd started to feel that this once again would be England’s day.

Sara Bayman and Serena Guthrie were providing excellent support to the defence, their incredible work-rate and pressure on the opposition forcing mistakes and keeping England composed. However, with the minutes ticking down, the desire to move the ball around court resulted in the Diamonds converting turnovers and pulling themselves to within two.

A long range effort from Corbin had the crowd on their feet and relieved the pressure. Excellent and calm build-up play ticked the score past fifty and with only seconds remaining the team were still clear. A last Australia attempt and miss was largely ignored by the crowd and the rest of the squad as they flooded onto the court to celebrate at the final whistle.

It was a display of determination, passion and intensity. There was some superb defending, delicious feeds and wonderful shooting. However, most of all, it was the character of the squad which saw them over the line. England certainly haven’t fluked these two wins, they were deserved victors and can now look onwards and surely upwards. Perhaps another famous old saying is true, character is what champions are made of. We continue to dream.

England starting 7: GS – Harten, GA – Cookey, WA – S.Corbin, C – Guthrie, WD – Bayman, GD – Agbeze, GK – Beckford-Chambers

On the bench: K.Corbin, Dunn, Malcolm, Keable, Francis

Australia starting 7: GS – Bassett, GA – Bell, WA – Browne, C – Ravaillion, WD – Hallinan, GD – Gomes, GK – Bulley

On the bench: Cox, Pratley, Gerrard, Letton

Umpires: Joel Young-Strong and Theresa Prince with Liz Boon as reserve

Shooting Stats:
England: Harten: 28/36 – 78% Cookey: 10/13 – 77%  K.Corbin: 13/17 – 76%

Australia: Bassett: 22/27 – 82% Bell: 15/18 – 81% Cox: 9/11 – 82% Pratley: 3/4 - 75%

England 58 Australia 51

26 Jan 2013 17:30PM

The NIA Birmingham

Astonishing England complete 3-0 rout of World Champions

Whitewash secured with incredible 58-51 comeback victory

England gave their visitors an Australia Day they wouldn’t forget, for all the wrong reasons. The hosts piled on the misery for an already deflated Australian Diamonds as they secured a third win in the space of a week to leave the World Champions heading home winless and demoralised.

In scenes never witnessed in netballing history, the hosts fought back from eight goals behind to inflict a Series whitewash on their visitors.

The early stages of the contest were scintillating to behold with each attack instantly firing. Joanne Harten and Pamela Cookey providing the end product to some flowing moves through the mid-court for the hosts.

Turnovers were at a premium as both sides traded blows, attack was definitely the best form of defence. The first miss of the match saw Harten bounce one off the ring from range and the Australian side converted the turnover. This had the Diamonds tails up and they punished a further mistake as Sasha Corbin’s feed into Harten strayed long. The visitors capitalised to move 15-11 in front at the end of the opening quarter.

It was the Diamonds who continued where they had left off with some excellent play around the shooting circle, Madison Browne pulling the strings. The gap moved to eight and there was a chance that England would be overrun.

In response, Harten started to drop deeper and search for the pass from out of the circle, leaving Cookey to occupy the vacant space. At the other end of the court, Stacey Francis was spearheading the defensive reply, battling for the ball and more often than not coming away with possession.

A medical time-out halted the reply but it failed to distract Harten who clawed England back to within one. Suddenly the hosts had the chance to pull level with Australia but a feed into Cookey was behind the captain and the Diamonds were able to convert the turnover. At half-time it was the most slender of advantages for the visitors, 26-25.

In a bid to freshen things up, Anna Mayes introduced Kadeen Corbin after the interval. The youngster made a positive impact at Wembley Arena on Wednesday and she was called into action to replace a tiring Harten.

With scores being traded, England managed to pull level from their centre pass. The tension on the court returned. Turnovers and interceptions weren’t being pounced upon as both sides let opportunities to kick clear, slip through their fingers.

However, with the Diamonds reeling from letting an eight goal lead slip, England started to pass the ball around more positively in the mid-court with Sasha Corbin starting to work the space in the final third excellently to locate her sister or captain under the post. The shooting duo rarely missed as the hosts moved ahead.

The crowd were right behind the team and rumbustious screams were let out every time an England attempt fell through the net. An exceptional intercept from Sara Bayman for a late turnover which was converted gave an indication to the change in momentum. England held a 43-38 advantage heading into the final quarter.

The inevitable Diamonds fight back was made at the start of the fourth quarter as they instantly pulled themselves to within two. Once again the onus was on the hosts to show their poise and composure to resist the charge.

Just as at Wembley, England excelled at this. Slamming the door in the face of their opponents, teasing them to within striking distance only to assert control and take the hope away from the visitors attack. There was no knockout punch but a collection of jabs that wore the World Champions down.

Eboni Beckford-Chambers and Francis led the defensive line superbly and, as they have shown throughout the Series, when the pressure is on the squad can count on them to respond. The amount of defensive rebounds collected by the pair was staggering and this provided much relief, not only to the squad but also to those in attendance.

Unlike the Wembley encounter, there would be no grandstand finish, as with two minutes to go the hosts were practically coasting with a six goal gap. The pressure was relentless and Australia couldn’t penetrate the England defence, when turnover was secured the girls in Red flooded forward in numbers.

There was more of a certainty to the end of the match in Birmingham, rather than the fans hoping that England would hold on, they expected them to. This didn’t detract from the remarkable noise and jubilant cheering at the final whistle but perhaps this Series has been a watershed moment for the side.

Consistency has been a key word used by Mayes in the previous 18 months, unlocking this devilish quality would lead to more success. The Head Coach has been quick to comment that despite the Series whitewash, there was no game in which four consistent quarters were produced. However, it was a third straight win over the Diamonds, and you don’t get more consistent than that.

England starting line-up: GS – Harten, GA – Cookey, WA – S.Corbin, C – Guthrie, WD – Bayman, GD – Francis, GK – Beckford-Chambers

On the bench: Agbeze, Candappa, Keable, Dunn, K.Corbin

Australia starting line-up: GS – Cox, GA – Bell, WA – Browne, C – Ravaillion, WD – Hallinan, GD – Bulley, GK – Letton

On the bench: Gerrard, Pratley, Bassett, Gomes

Umpires: Liz Boon and Theresa Prince with Joel Young-Strong as reserve

Shooting stats
England: Harten: 13/15 – 87%, Cookey: 29/31 – 94%, Corbin: 16/22 – 73%
Australia: Cox: 30/40 – 75%, Bell: 12/16 – 75%, Pratley: 9/10 – 90%