Wales continued their excellent run of form with a 51-44 win
against Northern Ireland on the opening day of the 2019 Netball Europe Open
Championships in Belfast.
The first quarter was nervy as was to be expected with the
hosts making some unforced errors to give Wales some early opportunities to
score. The Welsh defence put the Warriors on immediate notice, with GK
Christina Shaw sniping at some sloppy feeds to turn the ball over. Still, Wales
weren’t always clinical under the post and so it remained tight at quarter
Wales looked the more focused of the two sides early in the
second quarter, Chelsea Lewis at GA looked to reinforce the Welsh feed and as a
result Wales were able to convert far more chances early on. Again, Wales’
defence sent the Northern Irish drive sideways and along with some excellent
feeds from Kyra Jones, Wales were able to keep the hosts at bay.
Unfortunately, Nia Jones picked up a caution in the second
quarter and so as a result, head coach Julie Hoornweg had to reorganise the
squad. This was good news for Clare Jones who came on to represent Wales for
the first time since a hand injury ruled her out of Wales’ 2019 summer tests.
Changes seemed to hand Northern Ireland a bit of momentum as Wales stalled in
the period and the hosts drew level. Fortunately, the strength and familiarity
of connections on the Welsh bench meant that the management had plenty of
tactical options available and by quarter time the ship was steadied.
Wales always looked likely to hold on as the final quarter
began, but it was great to see Eleanor Roberts inject a further degree of
patience into Wales’ attack as the Warriors looked to spoil the party. Further
squad rotation meant that players were able to get a good taste for the weekend’s
competition ahead of the challenge of England to come. The final scoreline did
not do justice to a tenacious Northern Ireland, who just lacked the depth to
really challenge for the lead at crucial moments in the game.
Wales will face England at midday tomorrow (Saturday 28
September) and the game will be shown live on Welsh Netball’s Facebook account
and the YouTube channel of Netball Europe.
Quarter scores: 10-12 (10-12); 10-13 (20-25); 15-12 (35-37); 9-16 (44-51)
Starting Seven: Georgia Rowe, Chelsea Lewis, Beth Dyke, Kyra
Jones, Nia Jones, Leila Thomas & Christina Shaw. Bench: Eleanor Roberts,
Lydia Hitchings, Lucy Howells, Suzy Drane and Clare Jones.