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England v Uganda round-up: Debutants star as Vitality Roses clinch series

Superleague stars were in fine form as the Vitality Roses defeated the Uganda She Cranes 3-0 in their Vitality Netball International Series.

Loughborough Lightning’s Francesca Williams was named Vitality Player of the Series after establishing herself as a defensive rock for the Vitality Roses, despite coming up against the might of clubmate Mary Cholhok.

The London Pulse quartet of Funmi Fadoju, Olivia Tchine, Zara Everitt and Ellie Rattu all made their debuts off the bench in the first match, while Alice Harvey started at goalkeeper in Nottingham for her first cap. 

Mid-court maestros 

The mid-court was full of leadership experience for England, with Team Bath skipper Imogen Allison stepping up to co-captain her country for the first time. 

Alongside former Manchester Thunder captain Laura Malcolm, Allison controlled the court, with London Pulse skipper Everitt earning a deserved start on her home court in the final game. 

In that match, Allison came off the bench to provide fresh impetus to the Roses who were facing a dogged Uganda, with Lightning’s Hannah Joseph as useful in defence as in attack. 

One of Pulse’s newest recruits, Chelsea Pitman, showed her invaluable experience in the final game, coming on in the last quarter to steer England to a commanding victory at wing attack. 

Shooting for the stars 

Departing Thunder star Eleanor Cardwell faced stiff competition for a spot in the shooting circle as Sophie Drakeford-Lewis continued her fine start to her international career. 

Cardwell took the player of the match honours in the 60-51 win in Nottingham, but it was Tchine who got the honour in the third game. 

In front of her home crowd, Tchine starred in the 64-51 win to cap off a special first week in the red dress. 

She said: “It has been a dream come true. I’ve enjoyed every second of it, being with the girls as well, it has just been amazing. 

“Camp has been really hard but honestly I have enjoyed everything. I’m so thankful for Jess for giving me this opportunity to get my cap. 

“That’s three caps done, another lifetime to go!” 

Defensive duos shine bright 

Unfamiliar combinations didn’t stop England’s defence from shining, with Williams picking up her first-ever international player of the match gong to go with her series award. 

Williams started every game as she combined with clubmate Harvey to withstand the attacks of Cholhok and co to clinch the series with a match to spare. 

With the trophy sewn up, Fadoju was unleashed from the first minute in the final game and made Uganda pay, her intercepts swinging the momentum the Roses’ way. 

Defender Natasha Pavelin alongside Leeds Rhinos’ Paige Reed did not get the chance to take to the court, but both are included in England’s side for the FAST5 Netball World series. 

VNSL She Cranes impress across the court 

Usually competing for a spot in the She Cranes shooting circle, Cholhok and Surrey Storm’s Proscovia Peace bossed either end of the court for Uganda in this series. 

Cholhok occupied the goal shooter bib for Uganda, while Peace switched ends to play at goal keeper, as the She Cranes veteran added another string to her bow. 

This season’s Gilbert Top Scorer proved more than capable in defence, while Cholhok was consistently on target for Uganda, with each of England win’s hard fought for. 

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