As part of their England on the Road Series, the Roses headed to Newcastle in their opening World Cup warm-up clash and welcomed back a number of ANZ Championship players to the squad.
One of those stars was Eboni Beckford-Chambers who started the game brightly alongside the experienced Sonia Mkoloma. The latter was showing that she still retains the class and work rate to dominate proceedings in the defensive third.
Unlocking the Thistles’ door at the other end of the court was Tamsin Greenway who was combining well with the shooting duo of Pamela Cookey and Helen Housby.
Having performed admirably for their respective ANZ sides last season, England were benefitting from the consistency of Jade Clarke and Serena Guthrie in the mid-court. At the end of the opening quarter, the Roses held a 14-4 advantage.
A rapid start to the second quarter saw England dominate and stretch their lead. Turnovers were being made with ease and the attacking unit were quick to capitalise.
Scotland regained a foothold in the quarter as the play became more broken with an increase of penalties causing the game to stutter.
Eventually England composed themselves and took the game back to the visitors with the intensity increased. The only blow came with Mkoloma being forced off the court and Stacey Francis taking her bib. At half-time the Roses had moved 33-8 ahead.
Changes were made at the interval as Tracey Neville tested various combinations; Sara Bayman and Rachel Dunn were introduced and instantly looked to make their mark on proceedings.
That mark did not take long to make as Dunn was able to take advantage of some fantastic transition play through court to open her account.
It was sheer dominance in the third quarter as Francis teamed up with the re-introduced Mkoloma to for a formidable defence that was breached on just two occasions in the fifteen minutes. With one quarter to go England had moved 53-10 in front.
More positional changes were made for the final quarter with only Geva Mentor and Jo Harten rested for the match.
Again the Roses were on top and continued to create chances, although the fast paced action previously did seem to impact both sides as possession was lost with greater regularity.
The mid-court continued to steal ball back and push the team forward with the defence refusing to give the away side an easy chance to score. A very appreciative crowd of over 1,600 in Newcastle sounded their delight at the final whistle.
All eyes now turn to a Wednesday evening fixture against Wales as the road to Sydney continues.
Roses starting 7: GS – Housby, GA – Cookey, WA – Greenway, C – Clarke, WD – Guthrie, GD – Mkoloma, GK – Beckford-Chambers
photos Janos Schmidt