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Commonwealth Games: Debutants dazzle on day one

As the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games got underway, plenty of Vitality Netball Superleague stars made their bow at the multi-sport Games, impressing in the process.

All five of England’s debutants came from the VNSL as the defending champions opened up with a dominant 74-22 win over Trinidad & Tobago. 

Wales faced a tough task against fourth-ranked Jamaica, falling 72-43 with the Commonwealth Games newbies earning invaluable experience. 

The day was closed out as Northern Ireland took on New Zealand as Surrey Storm’s Emma Magee started on Games debut for the Warriors in a 79-20 loss. 

Guscoth gets off to a flyer 

Team Bath’s Layla Guscoth watched the last Commonwealth Games on shift in A&E, and with the doctor used to high pressure, she shone as starting goal defence on debut. 

Regularly turning the ball over for England, Guscoth put in a game-high eight deflections as Trinidad & Tobago were restricted to their lowest total at a Commonwealth Games. 

Plenty agreed with our assessment that the 30-year-old Birmingham-born defender is the best in her position right now. 

Cardwell can’t be stopped 

Manchester Thunder’s Eleanor Cardwell had to wait until the third quarter to make her Games debut, but she made use of her 30 minutes on court. 

The shooter had a conversion rate of 97% attempts on goal as England withstood a late fightback from Tobago. 

Former VNSL star turned commentator Pamela Cookey said: “Cardwell, she can pull, she can pop off and she can shoot from range.  

“Just so many tricks from her tool box makes it so hard for defenders to know what to do to get on top of her.” 

Same old Shaquanda 

Trinidad & Tobago’s Shaquanda Greene-Noel became a fan favourite in the VNSL as part of Celtic Dragons this season as she was back to delighting British crowds at the NEC. 

Despite seeing her Commonwealth Games debut end in defeat, Greene-Noel kept her team’s energy high, even breaking into a dance before the fourth quarter got underway. 

Playing all 60 minutes at goal-keeper, the Trinidad & Tobago captain impressed putting in four deflections and two turnovers. 

 Jones’ debut delight 

It was a proud moment for Wales’ Clare Jones on Friday as she made her Commonwealth Games debut at the age of 30. 

Her 17 minutes on court at centre produced four goal assists and helped renew the Welsh spirit as they battled against a Jamaica side who won the bronze medal last time out.

Cookey reflected on the Celtic Dragons mid-courter’s journey to the Commonwealth Games, she said: “One of the second oldest in the Wales team, came late into the Superleague and internationals but settled in really nicely to this Welsh side.” 

Magee mixes it up for Northern Ireland 

Not content with making her Games debut at goal attack, Surrey Storm’s Magee also took a turn at wing attack as Northern Ireland took on No.2 in the world New Zealand.

At goal attack, the 24-year-old scored six of the Warrior’s 11 goals at half-time before switching to the mid-court as she took the place of Severn Stars’ Michelle Drayne. 

Magee proved her versatility for Northern Ireland as she moved around the court, something that will be invaluable for the Warriors when they take on Malawi on Sunday. 

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