NWC 2023: England 100th NWC win
England made it two wins from two with a hard-fought victory over Malawi, their 100th in World Cup history.
In the fifth meeting between England and Malawi at a World Cup, the Roses made it five out of five when they beat the Queens 62-39 in Cape Town.
England was fresh off a massive 90-29 win over Barbados on Friday while Malawi scored a come-from-behind victory over Scotland. Before Saturday, the last time the two squads faced each other was at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. The Roses dominated throughout the match then and comfortably beat Malawi 66-41.
Saturday’s match kicked off with England unable to convert their first centre pass, and Malawi capitalised on this opportunity, securing an early lead. A familiar face for fans of the Netball Super League in the UK was Malawi goal shooter Joyce Mvula who previously played for Manchester Thunder.
England seemed to be caught off guard by their opponents’ skilful play through the court, with the African side remaining within touching distance and finishing the first quarter only two goals behind. In the next 15 minutes, however, mistakes began creeping into Malawi’s general play, granting the Roses some breathing space and relief. The score at halftime was 29-20 in favor of England.
As the second half got under way, it was clear England managed to overcome their rocky start to the match with a much-improved performance. Their defensive end found stability with the reliable combination of Geva Mentor and Layla Guscoth. The experience of these two players added a sense of assurance to their performance.
In the third quarter, the umpires called time when Malawi centre Takondwa Lwazi took a significant fall and went down in a heap of pain. Her teammates helped her off court and it seemed it was the end of the match for her. She did however return in the last 15 minutes.
England pulled away in the third quarter, outscoring Malawi by 10 goals and at the same time not allowing their opponents to score more than twice in succession. The Queens regained some ground in the last 15 minutes, but a repeat of Friday’s comeback exploits against Scotland was not to be.
England goal shooter Helen Housby was awarded the Most Valuable Player for a good allaround performance in the circle. She landed all 17 of her shots at goal.
England coach Jess Thirlby was once again pleased with her team’s efforts.
“I think we’ve prepared well for styles like this. I think it’s important to respect the opposition. We really look forward to the challenge of different levels of physicality and different styles of play so we kind of knew what to expect and we also know tactically how to be smart about it,” she said.
“I think everyone has had a test today and I think it’s perfect to get a test so soon on day two. We felt prepared for this game and I think we shouldn’t really wipe away a 20-plus goal win against such a quality side as anything other than a great step in the right direction.”
Malawi captain Jane Chimaliro said it was unfortunate that her side couldn’t continue with their good performance from the first quarter.
“We came hard at them in the first quarter and it started very well for us,” she said. “The game was very close but I think we lost concentration and consistency in the third quarter, and that’s why we lost the game. And then we didn’t play well in the last quarter.”
Player of the Match Helen Housby maintained her 100% record under the post as England shook off a nervy first quarter to stay top of their pool.
Vitality Roses starting seven: Funmi Fadoju (GK), Francesca Williams (GD), Imogen Allison (WD), Laura Malcolm (C), Natalie Metcalf (WA), Helen Housby (GA), Eleanor Cardwell (GS)
Substitutes: Jade Clarke, Layla Guscoth, Geva Mentor, Chelsea Pitman, Olivia Tchine
Malawi starting seven: Loreen Ngwira (GK), Towera Vinkhumbo (GD), Grace Mwafulirwa (WD), Takondwa Lwazi (C), Thandie Galleta (WA), Jane Chimaliro (GA), Joyce Mvula (GS)
Substitutes: Shabel Bengo, Martha Dambo, Mwai Kumwenda, Madalitso Mkandawire, Sindi Simtowe the game a little bit earlier in the day.”