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Curtain-raisers set the standard during England and Jamaica Series

Netball Super League stars shone in a series of dazzling curtain-raisers ahead of the England and Jamaica Series last week.

In three action-packed games in Manchester and London, young talent whetted the appetite of the crowd as England A battled Scotland and Future Roses faced England Thorns in a double-header.

With debut appearances and characteristic strong performances from established Super League names, the early on-court action was instrumental to the success of the main event.

Pechova impresses for England A

England A defeated Scotland 62-44 in the first 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 it 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 but the Thistles fell to a 28-19 score after quarter two.

All 12 of England A’s squad got out on court with Thunder’s Amy Carter making her return from ACL injury.

Team Bath’s Jayda Pechova got the first of her three curtain raiser appearances underway in style, causing havoc in the shooting circle while Paige Reed of Leeds Rhinos also impressed. 

England A headed into the final quarter with a ten-goal lead and were able to hold onto victory as Scotland put their own game plan in action ahead of a busy year on the netball court.

Scotland captain Claire Maxwell, of Strathclyde Sirens, said: “We really enjoyed that game. England A are a strong team so we wanted to put it together on court how we wanted to play and I think we showed what we can do.

“We really appreciate those fans who travelled down from Scotland and hopefully they will be supporting us as we build up to the World Cup.”

Futures take on Thorns

England Futures were given a great test by England Thorns in the Saturday curtain-raiser at the Copper Box Arena, with the Thorns coming away 75-41 winners.

Six NSL clubs were represented in the starting seven of the Futures team with Pechova and Rhinos’ Millie Sanders joining up in the defensive circle.

Following a number of changes to the team, Annabel Roddy of Celtic Dragons was called up as a last-minute addition to the team alongside London Pulse’s Berri Neil.

Neil teamed up with Kira Rothwell of Saracens Mavericks to keep England in a tight first quarter that saw the Thorns claim a 16-10 lead.

The Thorns came out firing in the second quarter, claiming eight goals in a row to extend their lead on the scoreboard, one that only grew to 37-18 at half time.

Neil battled hard in the shooting third, putting in the steps to get clear of Ky Lewis as GK but the Thorns continued to impress and brought the first of two dazzling displays to an end with victory.

Thorns go two for two

In the second of two excellent curtain-raisers on Sunday, England Thorns beat Future Roses 64-42.

Both Roddy and Neil were included within the starting VII as the Futures improved on their performance from the previous day in London.

The young squad got off to an early start after an inspired interception by Pechova turned the ball over and fired her team ahead in the opening few minutes.

But there was soon a reversal of roles and the Thorns pulled ahead, Lewis proving a force to be reckoned with as GK and working hard to steal the ball in and around the Futures circle.

Thorns began to use their advantage and soared to a 37-17 lead before the match began to even out again goal for goal.

Rothwell was once again a standout performer and managed to keep Futures teetering within 20 points of their opponents during the final two quarters.

But the first-half damage was done and Thorns secured an impressive curtain raiser double.


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