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Fran Williams England v Australia

The Vitality Roses fought hard in a highly-competitive 3-0 series loss to Australia with plenty of Netball Super League stars taking centre stage Down Under. 

Each Test defeat was by a single-figure margin, with the first settled by a single goal in a nail-biting 55-54 loss.

The second match in Sydney was a tight affair, with England edging the second quarter and drawing the fourth in a 56-48 reverse.

And in the final Test, the tourists recovered from a slow start to draw the second and edge the last two quarters, but it was not enough to prevent a 57-53 defeat.

Eleven of Jess Thirlby’s 16-player squad ply their trade in the NSL and Surrey Storm’s Sophie Drakeford-Lewis ended the series with an incredible 94% goal shooting record (15/16).

Funmi Fadoju of London Pulse only received her first senior cap against Uganda last month and the rookie defender earned rave reviews for her performances.

The 20-year-old limited the Diamonds attack in a stunning display of resistance in the third Test, making 17 deflections, 10 gains, four intercepts and two rebounds.

“You see this young star [Fadoju] coming out and making the most of her opportunity, having learnt from the best from Geva Mentor,” commentator Laura Geitz noted.

“She’s got so many tips and touches – the Diamonds are having to keep looking and thinking where she’s positioned.”

Fadoju’s start on Thursday was as a result of her huge impact off the bench in her first ever appearance against the world number ones in Sydney.

Fadoju was proud of her team after the 3-0 loss was confirmed, even she was initially anxious at the idea of facing the Diamonds.

She said: “I’m really happy to go out there and play against Australia. Even though we were beaten, we got some gains from it.

“It was so nerve-wracking – but it’s amazing. We played three games and got to learn how they play in those three games. Just amazing.”

Loughborough Lightning’s Fran Williams was the standout performer in the 3-0 whitewash of Uganda last month and continued her fine form in the opener, but Fadjou’s performances proved too strong to ignore.

Vitality Roses Head Coach Jess Thirlby said after the game: “We’ve shown some great resilience and grit against a quality side and there’s a lot for us to take away.

“We’ve learnt an incredible amount about individuals who have little international experience and are learning in a cauldron playing over here.”

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