Match report from Netball World Cup 2019, England v Uganda day 1, 12 July
Given a prime time slot for their first performance of the tournament, the England Roses stumbled out of the blocks somewhat. Goal keeper Geva Mentor reflected afterwards, “There was probably a lot of nerves in the warmup to be honest and it probably flowed a bit into the first quarter. The crowd support is amazing and I think that’s probably why we were a bit nervous to start, we felt like we were doing it for them as well.” Rapidly the butterflies dissipated and the host team clamped tight in defence to force countless turnovers from Uganda. With a send off and four more players cautioned for rough play, the She Cranes were outdone two goals to one and England were relieved to chalk up their first win of the Liverpool World Cup.
The totally packed parochial English crowd were fired up, loving every goal and every deflection. The leads in attack were not consistently sorted out in the first ten minutes, as the Roses kept a not very comfortable 3 goal lead. Uganda played a typical African attack style, shifting the ball laterally over and over in the centre third before finding one of the two shooters relieving the pressure through the middle. After 7 minutes the score was 8-5 to the home side.
Towards the end of the quarter an avalanche of errors from the She Cranes allowed the margin to expand – a stepping call here, a misjudged feed, a pass that hit a foot, and then lapses in concentration in the defensive circle. The class and composure of Helen Housby and Jo Harten became the big difference, and they weren’t in the mood to miss. After an eight to nil spree their tally was 15 from 16 for the first quarter. The English side also had nullified the towering presence of Peace Proscovia, her tally a miserable two goals, and seeing Uganda behind by nine at quarter time.
The second quarter showed more of the same patterns, Lilian Ajio just too short and too far behind the play to block Housby, and the incredible, intelligent marking of Geva Mentor and Eboni Usoro-Brown totally cutting the usually dominant Proscovia off the map. Still, Rachel Nanyonga wasn’t going to lie down, as she kept outscoring her goal shooting mate to keep her team even with England for most of the second quarter. After a string of clumsy holding infringements by Stella Oyella, umpire Phippard gave the Ugandan centre a warning. The score was 23-14 after nine minutes.
Once again after a very competitive opening to the quarter Uganda fell away. England hadn’t strictly taken much clean ball, but their opponents had made almost twice as many turnovers. She Cranes goal keeper Muhayimina Namuwaya joined the naughty corner with a caution for late contacts. Usoro-Brown appeared somewhat exhausted and was replaced by World Cup debutant Fran Williams at goal defence. England impressed with a string of wonderfully timed exchanges between captain Serena Guthrie, Chelsea Pitman, and Housby, waltzing into half time leading 31-18.
Status quo was maintained after the break, featuring more sizzling front and baseline cuts from Housby. Williams was trying to find her timing and collected the Ugandan shooters badly on three occasions, and then gave a form of apology but somehow escaped further sanction. Just after new Ugandan wing defence Stella Nanfuka was cautioned for continual contact, Rachel Dunn was introduced for goal shooter for England pairing with Harten. The melee continued from the Africans, and Oyella finally was sent off for repeated contacts. Pitman showed the defenders how it’s done and took a stunning intercept on the transverse line, the only one for the whole team in the match. Coach Tracey Neville remarked later, “Against an African side I think it’s more about forcing the errors – I think we forced them into a lot of errors. It’s not all about coming out with ball in hand”. England lead 44-26 going into the final term.
Barely two minutes after coming back on Oyella was permanently sent off for constant infringements, leaving Uganda down a wing attack for the last 12 minutes. Guthrie said post-match, “I think there was a bit of an altercation with me in that first half. I was actually quite cool out there. I give as good as I get out there, and I LOVE the hustle and bustle of the game. It’s a shame when any player gets sent off, but nobody goes out there to get sent off in a game.”
Not wanting to be left out of the sin bin, Nampungu was also cautioned. England were now incorporating Dunn better into their attack patterns, as she was seen by Jade Clarke and Pitman, but most of all by Harten. She started to really entertain the audience with a few long bombs, finishing the game with a quick 15 goals at 88%. The host team celebrated Harten’s 100-match milestone with a strong victory, 64-32.
England – Joanne Harten GS, Helen Housby GA, Chelsea Pitman WA, Serena Guthrie C, Layla Guscoth WD, Eboni Usoro-Brown GD, Geva Mentor GK
Bench – Jade Clarke, Rachel Dunn, Natalie Haythornthwaite, Natalie Panagarry, Francesca Williams
Coach – Tracey Neville
Changes: Q2 Williams to GD. Q3 Harten to GA, Dunn to GS. Q4 Clarke to C, Haythornthwaite to WA, Panagarry to WD, Usoro-Brown to GK
Uganda – Peace Proscovia GS, Rachel Nanyonga GA, Ruth Meeme WA, Stella Oyella C, Sylvia Nanyonga WD, Lilian Ajio GD, Joan Nampungu GK
Bench – Jesca Achan, Mary Nuba Cholock, Betty Kizza, Muhayimina Namuwaya, Stella Nanfuka
Coach – Vincent Kiwanuka
Q3 Nanfuka to WD, Nampungu to GD, Meeme to C, Oyella sent off 2 mins
Q4 Oyella to C, Meeme to WA, Oyella sent off, Meeme to C, Achan to C, Ajio to GD, Nampungu to GK
Umpires – Michelle Philppard, Marc Henning
Jo Harten 28/33 (85%)
Helen Housby 18/19 (95%)
Rachel Dunn 15/17 (88%)
Peace Proscovia 18/21 (86%)
Rachel Nanyonga 12/14 (86%)
Serena Guthrie 15
Chelsea Pitman 14
WHAT WAS SAID AFTER THE GAME
Tracey Neville, England coach
“I was really pleased to say that was our first game, and you talk about a really intimidating environment, with all them England fans out there! Like I say, there was a lot of nerves, we kept our control which I was really pleased with. I was really pleased with the way the umpires handled the game as well, but more importantly the consistence and the persistence that we actually wanted from that game, and the number of changes we were able to implement was really pleasing.”
“I said to my players, at the end of the day you go out there, you get off the body, you keep playing free netball. I think they did that magnificently. The umpires in the rules meeting the other night were very clear, if they went caution, warning, they WOULD be sent off. I actually have never ever seen someone sent off permanently from a game, which in a way is not where you want to finish a netball game. This occasion is massive particularly for the She Cranes, I have to have sympathy for them, they don’t get out onto the international circuit that much, they don’t get to experience this, or the umpires, and they’ll learn from that. They’re a great team, they’re not ranked sixth in the world for no reason. Tonight at some points in the game they actually had us, and congratulations to them as well.”
“We only turned 12 over? Against an African side I think it’s more about forcing the errors – I think we forced them into a lot of errors. It’s not all about coming out with ball in hand. At this level of the game it’s about keeping possession and limiting their possession, and forcing them into errors.”
Serena Guthrie, England captain
“We’ve been working really hard on variation. You know, you’ve got so many styles in this World Cup, for us it was very much about mixing things up, trying to be a bit proactive about that tonight. But it wasn’t perfect, and quite honestly, we won’t be 100% happy with some of the stuff we executed out there. Whilst it’s a good start, there’s a bit of work to do.”
“I think there was a bit of an altercation with me in that first half – but if I’m honest, I was actually quite cool out there. I was just trying to find a bit of space to throw the ball away. Hey, I give as good as I get out there, and I LOVE the hustle and bustle of the game. It’s a shame when any player gets sent off, but nobody goes out there to get sent off in a game, so hopefully she can work with the umpires and adjust for the next game so it doesn’t happen again.”
Geva Mentor, England
“There was probably a lot of nerves in the warmup to be honest and it probably flowed a bit into the first quarter, but I think we actually started fairly well. We let them back in…. it was a really interesting game. All credit to Uganda, they actually play some REALLY good netball, it’s a really unusual style to come up against. The crowd support is amazing and I think that’s probably why we were a bit nervous to start, we felt like we were doing it for them as well. It’s a bit overwhelming but it’s a real joy to hear as well.”
“Nat [Haythornthwaite] is SO determined to get herself right, and the first couple of weeks she was just doing everything that she could do. Today she’s able to come on and not feel it at all, have every confidence in her body, and credit to her, although she’s been away from the court she hasn’t missed a beat at all.”