The Roses Bloom for Ama Agbeze Making her Debut as Captain
The biggest European netball nations converged on Newcastle in the north of England May 13-15 for a four-day competition to decide the Netball Europe Open Championship in the Sport Central at Northumbria University.
The Championship section of the competition, contested between England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, started on Friday as England were lead out by new captain Ama Agbeze to face Northern Ireland.
Three brand new Roses were handed their England debuts during this game with Ella Clark starting at Goal Attack and Ellie Cardwell and local girl Leah Kennedy coming off the bench during the match.
Fabulously dynamic netball throughout the court saw the Roses take an emphatic 83-32 win and start the competition with a bang. Next up for England was another rivalry to be rekindled as they lined up against Scotland at 5pm on Saturday. Always a fierce competition, this match was set to be a well-contested battle and after being beaten by Wales the previous day, Scotland were ready. But after another clinical performance from this fearless England side, it was the Roses who came out of the game as winners with a margin of 70-26 against the Thistles.
With a wealth of exciting young talent throughout the court, the mixture of flare and composure in the shooting circle, speed and agility flooding the centre court and dynamic and explosive defending, the England Roses were ready for the final, and deciding game of the competition.
On the path to this concluding match of the tournament between England and Wales, both nations had comfortably won their previous two games, setting this fixture up to be a showpiece final in its own right. With another experimental starting seven, England took to court full of confidence against a strong Welsh side jam-packed with big names.
The first quarter finished a close 17-14 to England as Wales definitely felt they could take something away from Sport Central. At half time, the score advanced to a 15-goal lead – the Roses moved 38-23 ahead as turnovers began to be treasured and converted. In the third quarter, England took hold of the game and started linking up beautifully to pull away to an unsurpassable 63-32 lead.
At the end of the game, England were crowned the Netball Europe Open Champions with an incredible final score of 81-42. A successful first-look at Tracey Neville’s new, young and exciting England squad will leave few doubting the potential this side has as they racked up three ruthless victories against their European rivals.
Before the Championship began, proceedings were kicked off on Thursday 12th May in the Challenge Cup where the Republic of Ireland, Switzerland, Malta, Israel, and Gibraltar were joined by the USA and Grenada. Matches in the Challenge section were played across all four days with the Republic of Ireland finishing the tournament victorious. After a long weekend of fantastically contested netball it all came down to the final game against Switzerland where Ireland finished the game 37-20 winners.