England 71 South Africa 47
England started the hunt for the first title of the Quad series in the dominant style after recording the biggest result in the competition with a convincing victory over South Africa.
As further confirmation that Jess Thirlby’s high-flying side is reaching its peak at the right time before defending its title at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this summer, the Roses tore up the statistics book after recording their 71-goal win – a feat no other country has achieved achievements in the Quad series.
“I don’t even remember the last time we took the time to compete and beat a team like South Africa, by a considerable margin,” said Thirlby, who had the luxury of emptying the entire bench. “It’s always great when a team gives you a chance to make some changes and everyone now knows what it feels like to be part of a quad bike.”
The Roses built their victory on their talisman stopper Gevi Mentor, who, more than two decades after reaching her first international appearance as a 16-year-old, showed no signs of slowing down in a milestone, the 150th appearance for her country. It was also her first appearance on the English pitch since the 2019 World Cup in Liverpool and she certainly made up for lost time to the delight of London’s full Copper Box Arena.
If her high presence was effective, Mentor’s telepathic connection with defensive partner and match player Layla Guscoth was even more enlightening. The pair were crucial in stopping South Africa as they threatened to make up for the seven-point deficit in the opening quarter, although the duo are likely to face a much tougher test as England face world champions New Zealand in their next match on Sunday. .
“I wouldn’t want to get involved with those two in it, it was great to see them reconnect that way,” said Thirlby, who played alongside teenager Mentor when the goalkeeper made her debut in a test against New Zealand. . in 2001.
“We should take confidence from this title in New Zealand. We are not complacent, we know that they will come across a lot of changes on Sunday that they had in the end, so it will be a big challenge.”
Against South Africa – a team that has not played any of the top four in the world in two years – England’s victory has never been in doubt. Nevertheless, there were still occasional bugs in the Roses game that they would have to smooth out if they wanted to win this Quad series – a task that always eluded them.
Thirlby has always been effective in solving problems on her side around the pitch and again this time it was no different. In the second quarter and shortly after England shifted gear, it was decisive to hit with George Fisher.
When she entered the fight in place of Helen Housby, who still stands on this dynamic English side after a long hiatus from international netball, Fisher’s insertion proved devastating for South Africa.
With distinctly sporty black knee-length compression stockings, she saved her most lighting period by a third quarter when she jumped like a gazelle and ripped a laser pass from scratch with one hand before coldly reshaping the bottom of the net like England. a fierce pass game stretched his opponents.
It’s fitting that she scored England’s 71st goal – surpassing New Zealand’s 70th record set in the 2016 Quad series – to sign up early to join Thirlby’s Commonwealth team for Birmingham.