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Guscoth leads fightback as England defeat Jamaica 73-52

Layla Guscoth was one of several Netball Super League stars to shine as England came from behind to beat Jamaica 73-52 in the first match of their series in Manchester. 

The Surrey Storm defender was named player of the match as the Vitality Roses took an early lead in the three-Test series against the Commonwealth Games silver medallists. 

The teams will now travel to the Copper Box Arena in London for two sold-out games on Saturday and Sunday with live coverage continuing on the BBC. 

A rocky start saw Jamaica take a six-goal lead by the end of the first quarter with Guscoth and Funmi Fadoju of London Pulse realising the size of the challenge to defend against Jhaniele Fowler.

 

Fowler’s height and reach saw long balls regularly find the shooter with former NSL stars Helen Housby and Jo Harten keeping England in touching distance at the opposite end of the court. 

The Manchester crowd roared the Roses into the second quarter, with international netball returning to the city for the first time since 2016. 

Manchester Thunder and England netball captain Nat Metcalf helped to set up England’s attack at wing attack, ably assisted by new London Pulse recruit Jade Clarke at centre, with Imogen Allison of Team Bath completing the mid-court. 

Alice Harvey was brought into the defensive circle in the second quarter, the Loughborough Lightning player adding height and stifling Jamaica’s attack as England reduced the deficit to 34-31 by the halfway mark.  

After the half-time break, England clicked into gear as Jamaica faltered, Metcalf and Allison combining brilliantly to push the Roses into the lead for the first time. 

This was also Guscoth’s time to shine as she slowed down play to frustrate the Sunshine Girls as England went into the final 15 minutes with a two-goal lead. 

The Vitality Roses pulled away in the final quarter much to the delight of the home crowd as head coach Jess Thirlby made changes. 

Fadoju was brought back on and excelled in the goal defence bib as she was joined by her London Pulse teammates Olivia Tchine and Chelsea Pitman who helped power England past 70 and to a comfortable win.

Earlier in the evening, England A defeated Scotland 62-44 in the curtain raiser at the AO Arena, with several NSL stars on either side. 

Scotland capitalised on an early penalty to get the first goal before England A took the lead and never relinquished despite a battling performance from the Thistles. 

Strathclyde Sirens duo Beth Goodwin and Niamh McCall combined nicely in the shooting circle while Emily Nicholl worked tirelessly in the mid-court to set up opportunities. 

All 12 of England A’s squad got out on court with Thunder’s Amy Carter making her return from ACL injury while Paige Reed of Leeds Rhinos and Jayda Pechova of Team Bath pushed closer to a first appearance in the famous red dress.

The Vitality Roses next face Jamaica at 2:15pm on Saturday at the Copper Box with England Futures taking on England Thorns in the curtain raiser with first centre pass at 12pm.

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