England take bronze at Fast 5
Led by Sonia Mkoloma and Jo Harten, England overcame South Africa, who they’ll face in a three-match series in December, 30-22 in a closely contested third-place play-off.
Vice-captain Paige Reed was a standout star scooping not one, not two, but three Player of the Match awards over the weekend’s action as well as Player of the Series.
🥉 Third place
🏅 3 x POTM awards
👑 Player of the Series
— England Netball (@EnglandNetball) November 12, 2023
Game one: Vitality Roses 37-26 South Africa
Making their mark from the get go, the Vitality Roses quickly set out their intentions for the competition, exploding onto court to the sounds of Beyonce before taking the early lead. Possession was the winning component in game one as the Vitality Roses remained calm, held tightly onto the ball and kept the scoreline ticking over. Crucial intercepts from Vicki Oyesola and Taylor McKevitt allowed the shooters the space to breathe and with long bomb queen Paige Reed claiming 100% of her one and three point shots in her 18 minutes of court time, she was soon celebrating not just a win with her teammates but a Player of the Match award to go with it.
Game two: New Zealand 32-21 Vitality Roses
The FAST5 Ferns flew out the traps with a dominant opening quarter display putting them 15-2 up and work to do for Mkoloma’s side as England took their time to settle into the contest. The Vitality Roses fought back and left everything on court as they drew the second quarter (6-6) and secured a narrow win in the third (6-7), but with long bombs failing to drop in, it was the Silver Ferns who made it two from two in their FAST5 campaign.
Game three: Vitality Roses 41-30 Malawi
England bounced back from their earlier defeat to New Zealand to make it two wins and one defeat on the first day of the competition. After a close opening quarter (11-9), the Vitality Roses found another gear with good full court pressure to restrict their opponents Malawi and sharp shooting to establish a healthy half-time lead (25-12). The last Power Play was full of chances for both sides – when Joyce Mvula landed a six-pointer to cut the gap to just seven, it set up a tense finale but England saw it out as Player of the Match Reed scored a four-pointer.
Game four: Jamaica 27-33 Vitality Roses
The Vitality Roses got day two off to a flying start against a fast and flairy Jamaican side. A four-point shot from Rhea Dixon saw Jamaica end the opening quarter ahead by two (8-6), but the Roses soon used their depth on their bench to remain calm and convert every single one of their one-point shots to keep the scoreboard ticking over. Ahead by four going into the second half (11-15), the Vitality Roses and Jamaica both failed to capitalise on their Power Play in quarter three but it was England holding their nerve under pressure which saw them eventually run home the win.
Game five: Australia 37-16 Vitality Roses
Less than two hours later, the Vitality Roses were back on court to face their final opponent in Australia. With three teams (Australia, England and New Zealand) all level on points, the match held the much sought after key to a place in the final. The high tempo was set from the get go with both sides firing on all cylinders, each aiming to maintain a clinical approach to the game. Australia’s defence increased their physicality, looking to close out day one’s two-time Player of the Match winner Reed during the all-important Power Play periods. Despite crucial turnovers from Jayda Pechova, McKevitt and Razia Quashie, it was Australia’s impressive shooting form that awarded them the final victory.
Bronze medal match: Vitality Roses 30-22 South Africa
With a bronze medal on the line, it was an end-to-end but low scoring start to the game as the Vitality Roses went up against South Africa hoping for a repeat outcome to their game one victory. The defence were making their mark on the contest with flying intercepts from captain Quashie and Oyesola but England were unable to capitalise and extend their lead. Heading into the championship quarter with everything still to play for, there continued to be little to separate the sides and a Zandre Smit four-pointer cut the gap to just one in England’s favour to set up a tense finale. The two sides continued to go toe to toe in the final quarter and after Smit missed a six-pointer that would have swung the game in her team’s favour in the closing stages, Player of the Match Reed nailed a four-pointer to confirm victory for the Vitality Roses.
Loved watching the weekend’s action? Your next chance to see England in international competition is on 5 December in Manchester and 9 and 10 December in Nottingham as they face South Africa in a three-match Vitality Netball International Series. Tickets are still available but selling fast so don’t miss out and buy now!