Wales U21: 44 Scotland U21: 56 – Netball Europe Under 21 Open Championships

Friday 5 October 2018, Belfast, Northern Ireland

There was a tense start to the match as both sides struggled for fluency, each conceding a number of turnovers before finally Bethan Goodwin was able to score the first goal of the game. Georgia Jenkins responded with a long-range effort as the Thistles defence worked hard to force Wales into throwing it over the top. Scotland used this to their advantage and built a healthy lead, yet Wales’ defensive duo of Leila Thomas and Christina Shaw did plenty to frustrate Scotland’s passing game and Wales were able to work the ball better as time went on. Jenkins continued in good form to make it a two-goal lead at the break.

Although Georgia Jenkins was shooting long-range goals at a rate of 80%, there was a need to drive the ball under the post to facilitate some more fluent scoring opportunities and so Rhian Evans came on at goal shooter at the start of the quarter. Initially, Wales’ progress into the Scottish lead was frustrated but Eleri Michaels led a strong defensive effort mid-way into the period as Wales came back within 5. With the ball being fired up court at will, the Scottish returned the favour, amassing a sizable 9-goal lead at the break and leaving management to ponder a change in approach for the third quarter.

The third quarter proved far closer between the two teams, however Wales were not able to make a sustained impression on the score line. There were some opportunities to make progress as the Scotland centre pass was far from 100% solid, however the changes to the Welsh defensive make-up didn’t have enough of an impact to hold-up the young Thistles.

Likewise, the fourth quarter was a creditable one for Wales but the damage had been done in the second. Miquie Walker Jones made an immediate impact at keeper when she came on to save what would have been a facile Scottish goal. Team twins Beca and Catrin Hughes produced some lovely passing play but ultimately the Thistles kept their composure.

Wales must now re-group to face perennial champions England tomorrow at midday. The team will surely come together and come out with positivity and flare in what promises to be the weekend’s toughest assignment.

Quarter scores: 11-13 (11-13); 11-18 (22-31); 8-11 (30-42); 14-14 (44-56)

Wales U21: Gwenan Williams, Georgia Jenkins, Rhian Evans, Beca Hughes, Catrin Hughes, Chloe Dyke, Shona O’Dwyer, Rebecca Baker, Christina Shaw, Eleri Micheal, Miquie Walker Jones and Leila Thomas      .

Scotland U21: Savannah Antoine, Emma Barrie, Molly Cooper, Bethan Goodwin, Hannah Grant, Emma Love, Catriona MacDonald, Sarah MacPhail, Niamh McCall, Rebecca Metcalfe, Emma Mitchell and Gillian Thomson.