England v Wales, Preliminary Round, Pool B, 2018 Commonwealth Games
GK Geva Mentor
GD Ama Agbeze (c)
WD Beth Cobden
C Serena Guthrie
WA Natalie Haythornthwaite
GA Helen Housby
GS Joanne Harten
GK Leila Thomas
GD Nia Jones
WD Suzy Drane (c)
C Kyra Jones
WA Amanda Varey
GA Sarah Llewellyn
GS Chelsea Lewis
England smashed Wales by 54 goals in an error-ridden match. It was an anti-climactic performance from Wales after their heart-breaking close loss two nights earlier against Scotland.
The last time England and Wales met was at the Netball Europe championships in October. The Welsh women came within 22 goals of England, so a large blowout six months later was a disappointing result.
The loss of Bethan Dyke to an ACL rupture is a serious setback for the team. The Welsh wing attack suffered the dreaded blow in the game against Scotland. Rachel Llewellyn back-filled her position, but the attack line was hesitant and gave up nine turnovers in a lacklustre first quarter.
“We’ve had a very emotional 24 hours. Bethan Dyke is such an important part of the group in terms of her influence and her personality. We’ve had a really hard time, they’ve been quite emotional about it – but to her credit she was really positive on the bench today,” said Wales coach Julie Hoornweg.
On more positive injury news, Serena Guthrie showed no signs of the ankle injury she sustained early in the tournament. She leapt high to pick up three intercepts and four deflections for England in a dominant first quarter.
The pressure of the English defence stifled Wales, but England gave up of turnovers of their own. Most of these came from mistimed feeds into the shooting circle that sailed over the baseline. Although the Roses were impressive overall, missed shots and passing errors will need to be tidied up before England’s pool match against New Zealand.
With a lead of 35 goals, England coach Tracey Neville brought all bench players on at half time. The only player who remained on court in all quarters was Helen Housby. Housby has featured in the most number of quarters for the team – 14 out of the 16 quarters they have played.
Neville later explained that she is trying to build the match fitness of her Australian-based players (including Housby). The Australian Suncorp Super Netball season finished last June, while the English Super League competition is part-way through.
“If you think of our ANZ girls, our English girls have been in competition prior to coming out here. Our ANZ girls have been just in training they’ve not had much competition. So it’s about giving them as much exposure in this to competition to match play, because when it comes to the business end, it’s about match fitness and mental pressure.”
Natalie Haythornthwaite played a handy shooting cameo in the second half, potting most of her 13 goals from mid-range.
There weren’t many positives for Wales on a tough night. The final turnover tally was 30, but the team played their strongest quarter in the last. Hoornweg praised 19 year old defender Leila Thomas for a brave performance.
England will enjoy a rest day before their toughest pool match against the wounded Silver Ferns. Regardless of the result, they are likely to finish the preliminary rounds on top of Pool B. Wales faces two tough games against African nations Uganda and Malawi.
England 85 def Wales 31
Helen Housby 34/36 94%
Joanne Harten 26/32 81%
Natalie Haythornthwaite 13/14 93%
Kadeen Corbin 12/14 86%
England 85/96 89%
Chelsea Lewis 22/28 79%
Sarah Llewelyn 0/0 0%
Caralea Moseley 4/6 67%
Georgia Rowe 5/6 83%
Wales 31/40 78%
Tracey Neville, England Coach
“I think today was about building confidence and momentum for our team and I think that’s what we did. I think we went out there and got some things we wanted to get on the table before New Zealand in the next game. We did well.”
Does the New Zealand loss change your approach?
“It doesn’t really change anything for us. We come into this, obviously you’ve got to beat everybody that you play against, so we still go into the same game on Wednesday as we would have done if that last one hadn’t happened. Anything can happen in this competition and today was about getting that win on the table and the next one will be about winning again.”
How much of a factor is fatigue at this point?
“Our girls are pretty fresh and I think what people don’t realise is we’re actually in a competition that’s a day-in, day-out competition, and you just can’t play your best players every single day. So yesterday we made quite a lot of changes, and maybe them changes got Uganda back in the game, but we had a team that actually carried the win through and that’s all that matters to me. We’ve got fresh players, we’ve got a fresh team going into the next game and that’s all that matters.”
The reason Helen Housby has played a lot in the last few games
“I think it’s just about flow of play, we’re trying to give our athletes a little bit of flow, a little bit of momentum. If you think of our ANZ girls, our English girls have been in competition prior to coming out here. Our ANZ girls have been just in training they’ve not had much competition, so it’s about giving them as much exposure in this to competition to match play because when it comes to the business end it’s about match fitness and mental pressure. So that’s what we want them to achieve in this.”
How close are you to deciding the starting seven?
“I think we’re getting closer. The test is obviously on Wednesday. But I think the Roses are a team that, we are a team. I’m not going to say that the same seven will start as the end, but we’ve got variation, we’ve got change in what we do and that puts us in strength going into the next game.”
Suzy Drayne, Wales Captain
“Tough opposition, we always knew they were going to be tough. And probably even tougher given the game last night between Malawi and New Zealand. I know that they’re all going to be looking for gold. So they ran out strong, they’ve got strong players right throughout, and credit to them they did a really good job.
They had a strong start and we were on the back foot. We need to make sure that we find our start, we haven’t yet found that, and we’ve got another three games to make sure we do. And we need to then do that every single quarter, so the first five minutes of every quarter is probably been where we need to put our foot down a little bit more and play our style rather than going into the opposition speed or style that they’re playing.”
The margin was 22 goals the last time you played England (at Netball Europe), what was the difference today?
“We’re still adapting and trying to find our play. We’ve done really well at the preparation camp and now we’re probably trying to still find that positive upward lift that we had down in Tasmania. And we’re just probably not quite hitting it at the moment. So in terms of the England style, we knew they were going to be quick, strong, tough through the court and use their height and speed, and we just didn’t deal well enough with that through the court today. So we need to make sure that we go back and look at us in preparation for Uganda and Malawi.”
How much of a factor is fatigue at this point?
“I think we’ve had good preparation, we’ve had Netball Europe, we’ve had World Cup qualifiers this year, so it’s just making sure that we go out there and do what we’ve been training to do. We had a really good training camp down in Tasmania, and we were on-off games as well down there. So it’s not fatigue, it’s making sure that we actually do what we said we were going to do.”
Helen Housby, England
How do you continue to motivate yourself during a margin that blows out?
“It comes down to your mindset of what you want to achieve. Winning the game isn’t what we go out to achieve, we go out to win it in a certain way. Every quarter you start afresh, nil to nil. You’re still trying to push, still trying to win each quarter. It can get hard when you’re so far ahead. But you have to keep on top of each other, and support the people around you.”
Tracey Neville has spoken about how much you’ve matured as a player. Where do you think you’ve grown?
“I think she’s definitely right. Playing in Australia and at the Swifts in Sydney has really helped me. To be honest I’m not sure, as it feels like such a long time ago I got my first cap in Glasgow (Commonwealth Games). But I’m a completely different player; my mental side, my physical side has never been better. I’m loving my netball now.
How do you work on your mental game?
“All the teams have psychologists – England, the Swifts. We do team psychology, you’ve got to look at yourself on video analysis, and prep really well for each game so you go into it knowing that you’re the best that you can be. I think you have to know that you couldn’t have done any thing else to be better.”
You look like you’ve always been composed, watching you slot that goal in the last seconds of the English league a few years ago.
“That’s one of my favourite memories. People call me the Ice Queen when I’m on court, because I don’t really change my facial expression that much. I like to play cool, calm, collected, and it helps me shooting.
What do you have planned for the rest day?
“Lots of recovery – we’ll get in the pool, in the ice baths, compression, look at video. Because although it’s a rest day, we’ve got New Zealand the next day, so we have to be fully prepared for that. We’ve got to come out hard.”
Her reaction to Malawi’s win over New Zealand
“Like most of the netball world we were watching it, and we were surprised. Malawi deserved to win, they were the better team. So New Zealand will come out looking for bl
Julie Hoornweg, Wales Coach
“As a coach this challenge is very tough. But we’re all positive about what we’re doing, and we’ve reinforced that we know it, but it’s just about putting it out on court. When it’s coming at you with ten times the speed than you see it at home, it’s hard to pick up on. They have to lift their work rate, and their decision making is a bit too slow. So many times they catch, turn, and look, then pass; whereas you’ve got to catch it and let it go. We’re just too slow at doing that. There were hundreds of passes that they should have just let go today, but until they get confident in it, it won’t happen. All those things they’ll be working at.”
Her instructions to the team
“Today we wanted to punch the middle and open up the wide, but they either all went middle or all went wide at the same time. We tried a few different combinations too – Sarah Llewelyn hasn’t played wing attack before, she’s really a goaler, but we were looking for a bit more movement. We ended up with Suzi (Drane) in the centre, where we’ve always played her at wing defence. We couldn’t count on the same people all the time.”
On Bethan Dyke’s injury
“We’ve had a very emotional 24 hours. Bethan Dyke (wing attack, ACL injury) is such an important part of the group in terms of her influence and her personality. We’ve had a really hard time, they’ve been quite emotional about it – but to her credit she was really positive on the bench today.”
How to improve
“Just bringing them together, getting their heads up, getting out there – we need a way to start better. We put ourselves under so much pressure in those first five minutes, and it just rolls on. It’s nice to finish a bit stronger, when they started doing some of the things in the last quarter that we asked of them in the first quarter. Sometimes they try too hard, sometimes they don’t try quite hard enough.”
Who she was happy with
“I’m really thrilled with Leila (Thomas), who played keeper and then moved out to goal defence. She’s only 19, she’s just come into the program, and she’s out there mixing it with some of the best in the world and I really think we’ve found a nice kid there, I’m really pleased. She did a mighty job out there today, getting her hands to lots.”
“We want to put a performance together that we’re proud of. We did that against New Zealand for one quarter, and we’ve been close to it in a couple of others. These girls don’t get this sort of international very often. We only had one day together before we came here, and I’ve only been in Wales three weeks, so it was a big ask to think we could pull all that together at the last minute. We did really well in Tasmania, but once you get onto the big stage you have to be able to repeat it.”
Preparation for the last two pool matches
“The African style is very aerial and very jumpy. We’re just not tall enough for this level. The young kid at wing attack (Varey) that I had at the start, it’s just her height that lets her down, it’s nothing about her skill or level of play. We’re going to have to keep the ball down.”
Nia Jones, Wales
“We’re disappointed with our performances. Never mind the result, the performances we put out the last couple of games were not how we were training, and not how we were looking like in our camp. We’ve got to refine that form – we know we’ve got the talent and discipline in this group. We’ve got two fantastic opportunities against Uganda and Malawi to right those wrongs.”
Jade Clarke, England
“It was a good response for yesterday. We were really disappointed in our performance, Uganda played a really brilliant game, really pushed us to the edge, so that’s something we really wanna address – just doing our own jobs first, and doing the basics well. We had that, right from the start, the first term set the tone.”
“(There were) Definitely some brilliant ones, but Serena had her share of that! She inspired me to have a go. We didn’t wanna take Wales lightly, we knew they’re gonna come out firing, especially being home nations derby.”
Upcoming match against New Zealand
“I’m feeling really good about Wednesday. We’ve played New Zealand a lot this international season, and we both know each other’s games inside out, so it’s gonna be who performs under pressure on the day. We know they’re gonna come out after the loss yesterday really firing, and you don’t wanna meet a team after a loss so they’ll play twice as good. It’s going to be a great battle!”