England start Netball World Cup with confidence-boosting win over Barbados

Jess Thirlby, England’s head coach, described their 90-29 win over Barbados as a “confidence booster” as they began their Netball World Cup campaign with a complete performance in Cape Town.

Having left last summer’s Commonwealth Games without any silverware, England looked fresh-faced as they imposed themselves in the game early in front of a lively crowd in South Africa’s “Mother City”.

Helen Housby, coming off the back of a strong individual campaign in Australia’s Super Netball league, appeared to have packed her form and brought it to Cape Town, shooting at 100% (16/16) in the time she was on court as well as clocking two intercepts – a dream statistic for any shooter.

Barbados, ranked 14th in the world, remained committed to the fight despite the growing scoreline. Their attack, led by two former England Roses – Sasha and Kadeen Corbin – who switched nations to play in their first World Cup for the country, showed flashes of brilliance but were stifled by England’s army of defenders.

With greater threats ahead, including Australia, New Zealand and Jamaica, who posted a daunting 105-25 win over Sri Lanka in the afternoon’s action, Thirlby took the chance to try and test all 12 of her players in different combinations, a decision she said was rooted with the future in mind.

“I thought the changes were purposeful both for this game and beyond. So we’ve taken confidence on that as a coaching team and I thought the girls really managed that well. They came and had impact. We didn’t want to warm ourselves up through the game, we really wanted to make a statement of intent, mainly for ourselves, but if that has a good ripple effect externally that’s a bonus.”

England were the only home nation to record a win on the opening day with a valiant Wales losing 51-60 to South Africa and Scotland losing 49-55 to Malawi.

The Scots were on for the day’s big upset after leading Malawi, ranked four places above them, until the final quarter when the African side surged to win.

source: theguardian.com