England v South Africa

The FIAT International Netball Series

England vs South Africa

Match Report - Worcester Arena

Clean sweep for England with a Series whitewash in Worcester

England claimed their third successive victory over South Africa in the FIAT International Series and in doing so maintained their remarkable 100% record in 2013. In a contest which echoed the previous matches so far in the Series, England looked good in patches as they run out 53-41 winners over the SPAR Proteas at Worcester Arena.

Geva Mentor kept her place in the starting line-up from Wednesday night’s victory at Wembley Arena and Kadeen Corbin was chosen to partner captain Pamela Cookey in attack. A quick move from centre-pass saw Corbin open the scoring, a turnover shortly afterwards saw England pull clear early on.

With added fluidity to their play through the court, the hosts were looking sharp in attack and solid in defence. A combination of wonderful shot making and resolute work in the defensive third saw the lead stretch even further as the opening quarter continued. England were controlling the play and with Serena Guthrie manage to pierce the visitors defence with regularity, they were able to draw 16-7 ahead after fifteen minutes.

The excellent early work was improved at the start of the second quarter as Corbin carried over her fine shooting form to nail another pair of mid-range attempts. The scoring was becoming more frequent and with greater ease as the mid-court applied intense pressure to force the Proteas into mistakes.

In the shooting circle, the partnership between Cookey and Corbin made for joyful viewing with the pair increasing the lead to 26-12 with five minutes remaining before the interval. At the other end of the court Eboni Beckford-Chambers and Mentor were controlling the space and another South African feed which drifted long was testament to their hard work. At half-time, England were 30-16 clear.

With England in the driving seat, Anna Mayes made some changes during the break with Jade Clarke moving into C, Stacey Francis taking over at GD and Mia Ritchie coming on at WA. The pattern of play refused to shift with the home side dominating play and remaining in control. When the visitors did manage to bring the ball through court, their shooting combination were combining impressively.

It didn’t take long for Francis to have the crowd gasping again after her introduction, a full bloodied attempt at an interception had the Team Bath defender lunging off court and towards the spectators. Her domestic team mate Corbin also wowed with an excellent catch and feed in mid-air as England searched to deal a decisive blow. The third quarter ended with the hosts in a commanding 42-35 advantage.

With the final quarter of the Series remaining, Lindsay Keable was brought on at GK and Serena Guthrie showed her versatility in mid-court by re-appearing at WD. However, it was South Africa who were to finish the stronger as for the first time in the match the England shooters started to falter and look flustered in the circle.

Frustratingly for the coaching staff, England were beaten in the final quarter by a spirited visiting Proteas who had shown fight and determination across the three matches. The team had continued the progression from the previous game and will be delighted to seal another Series win and it shows just how far the squad have come that even a relatively comfortable 3-0 win is greeted with a bittersweet feeling.

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

South Africa starting 7: GS – Myburgh, GA – Holtzhausen, WA – Msomi, C – Mdaka, WD – Gwavu, GD – Mostert, GK - Niemand

Umpires: Rachel Ayre and Dave Brown with Sharon Kelly as reserve