02 December 2019

Head coach Jess Thirlby full of praise for her Roses after convincing series win in South Africa

England Netball's head coach Jess Thirlby believes the team can take huge confidence after winning their three-match test series against South Africa in Cape Town. 

This was the first tournament under Thirlby's watch and marked the start of England's four-year international cycle.

Of her team's success she said: "It’s an outstanding achievement by this team to come away from home with very little international experience. To have sealed the series in those opening two games in that fashion is an achievement that shouldn’t be underestimated.

"We can take huge confidence knowing that we’re meeting South Africa again so soon in January."

The Roses won the first match 63-58 and followed up with a convincing 59-32 win on day two. 

Thirlby said: "The most pleasing aspect was the improvements we made from game one to game two. I think the first game showed everyone back home the grit and passion that this group plays with, which got us over the line in amazing circumstances. We wanted an improved performance and be tactically smarter so I was most pleased with that."

In the final day of the series, fatigue took over England's young side as they were beaten 54-48 by the Spar Proteas.

"Obviously, it would have been nice to get three wins from three but we just weren’t as composed in those critical moments as we had been in those first two matches. Had we done that, I think we could have come out on top."

With many of the senior players taking a break, Thirlby was forced to select an inexperienced squad. Half the team had less than 15 caps and only four members were part of the bronze medal winning World Cup campaign. 

"We never underestimated South Africa going into game three despite the series having already been decided. I think you could tell the team were just as passionate but maybe were a bit fatigued towards the end of the game. You can’t underestimate the effort they put into sealing the series in those first two games."

England will next face South Africa in the Vitality Nations Cup in January 2020, with Jamaica and New Zealand joining them.

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