Uganda national netball team She Cranes lost 56-35 to England during their third match at the ongoing Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
This is She Cranes’ second loss at the games having dropped points against New Zealand in the opener. Uganda beat Trinidad and Tobago in game two.
Meanwhile, the victory for England means that the hosts remain unbeaten in Pool B and they will take part in Saturday’s semi-finals; a meeting on Thursday night with New Zealand should determine if they finish first or second in the group; England are the defending Commonwealth Games champions.
Jess Thirlby’s team will finish either first or second in Pool B and a duel with world champions New Zealand on Thursday night should decide that, as long as the Silver Ferns beat Trinidad & Tobago later on Tuesday.
Against She Cranes, from the outset, England’s full-court defensive pressure helped to limit Uganda’s options and, in attack, England worked quickly and smartly.
The home team hassled hard to open up a 25-15 lead by half-time. A strong third quarter put the game out of Uganda’s reach and enabled England to withstand the She Cranes’ tenacity in the last.
With Uganda’s quick route to goal in the form of Proscovia Peace, England knew they needed to force errors higher up the court to overcome the sixth-ranked side in the world.
Thirlby opted for the experience of Geva Mentor at goal keeper to directly mark Peace and in this, her sixth Commonwealth Games, Mentor knew exactly what to do.
England’s mid-courters had their arms over every ball from minute one too and, as a collective, Thirlby’s team hassled hard from end-to-end.
Their determination forced a couple of missed feeds from Stella Oyella and Jesca Achan, which England clinically punished.
Captain Nat Metcalf and Jade Clarke found Helen Housby and Eleanor Cardwell quickly and England’s shooters missed just one attempt at goal during the opening 15 minutes.
A couple of attacking errors from England handed Uganda the ability to score the quick goals they had been looking for and draw it back to three-goal contest.
Pressure from Layla Guscoth and Stacey Francis-Bayman brought about a key turnover, though, which allowed England to level up the quarter. Mentor added to their work shortly after to further settle proceedings.
A tangle between Peace and Guscoth came six minutes before the break; the Ugandan captain landed awkwardly and, after trying to continue, had to leave the court.
Peace was replaced by Mary Cholhok and Uganda’s route into the circle became a shaky one until the half-time break.
The shorter shooters gave Mentor and Guscoth a different challenge, with Cardwell and Jo Harten being deployed in England’s attack end.
England took a couple of minutes to settle before upping the ante and using the set of 15 minutes to put the game firmly out of Uganda’s reach.
Uganda started the final quarter strongly and went goal-for-goal with England for much of it, however their discipline ultimately let them down while the hosts remained composed and collected.
Uganda now face Northern Ireland and then Malawi in their final Pool B matches, as England prepare to take on 56-35 Zealand on Thursday night before the weekend’s semi-finals.
*Partial credit to Sky Sports.