NWC 2023: Roses start their campaign
England kicked off their Netball World Cup journey with a comprehensive 90-29 victory over Barbados.
The match was unique in that it saw England’s Geva Mentor and Jade Clark as well as Barbados’s Latonia Blackman all stepping out on the Netball World Cup stage for an incredible record-equalling sixth time.
The two sides have met a total of six times in Netball World Cup history, with the island nation never having gotten the better of the Roses.
While the Bajan Gems had a positive start to the match, staying in touch for the first five minutes, seven unanswered goals from England towards the end of the quarter saw them surging further ahead than they already were to reach the first break 20-8 up.
The English didn’t look back from there, dominating on all fronts, winning the next quarter by the same 12-goal margin and continuing that ascendency. Barbados could manage just four goals in the third period and things didn’t go much better in the fourth, the Roses rolling out comfortable 90-29 winners.
England coach Jess Thirlby was understandably pleased with her team’s performance, in which World Cup debutante Funmi Fadoju was named the Most Valuable Player.
“I’m really pleased. It’s a solid start. I think while we’re not getting carried away with the scoreboard, one of the learnings for us is to make sure we’re more consistent quarter on quarter, irrelevant of changes… and I actually thought quarter on quarter we got stronger, we found more ball through the game which was great, we adjusted.”
“It’s a confidence boost but we’re not getting carried away, we have bigger challenges to come in the next couple of days.”
Barbados coach Denise Alleyne said: “I think we had a really good first half, we stuck to the gameplan for the most part. We didn’t convert as many as we would have liked but we were able to move the ball around and we had some good spots. We had a bit of a mental lapse in the third quarter that spilled over to the fourth but for the most part, I saw some good things happening and we have some stuff we can improve upon for our next game.”
Speaking about Blackman playing in her sixth Netball World Cup, she added: “It’s just great, Latonia is a patriot at heart. It’s interesting because my very last tournament as a player was her first so we actually played together for one tournament. I hope it’s not her last. She still has a lot to offer – her spirit, her personality, everything she stands for is what Barbados netball is all about.”
Q2: 42-18 (22-10)
Q3: 65-22 (23-4)
Q4: 90-29 (25-7)
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Funmi Fadoju (England)
Vitality Roses starting seven: Geva Mentor (GK), Layla Guscoth (GD), Imogen Allison (WD), Jade Clarke (C), Natalie Metcalf (WA), Eleanor Cardwell (GA), Helen Housby (GS)
Substitutes: Funmi Fadoju, Laura Malcolm, Chelsea Pitman, Olivia Tchine, Francesca Williams
Barbados starting seven: Faye Agard (GK), Akeena Stoute (GD), Tonisha Rock-Yaw (WD), Teresa Howell (C), Sasha Corbin (WA), Latonia Blackman (GA), Kadeen Corbin (GS)
Substitutes: Carla Boyce, Brianna Holder, Amanda Knight, Tamara Trotman, Damia Walrond
Speaking after the game Head Coach Jess Thirlby commented: “It’s a solid start. I think whilst we’re not getting carried away with the scoreboard, one of the learnings for us was to be more consistent quarter on quarter, irrelevant of changes, and I think we got stronger with each quarter.”
Vitality Roses co-captain, Layla Guscoth spoke about the experience playing against the Corbin sisters, adding: “I’m not going to lie, standing on the line opposite them was a bit weird. You know whenever you play against them you’re going to be in for a fast-paced game but I thought we weathered the storm quite well in the end.”
Player of the Match Funmi Fadoju was proud to play alongside childhood idol, Geva Mentor. She said: “Every day I’m just like, I can’t believe I’m playing with Geva Mentor! She’s so supportive and such a strong person to have back there. I just love her leadership on court. She’s always high-fiving us and cheering us on. I just love playing with her.”