England record first victory in Netball Nations Cup against South Africa after Jess Thirlby tweaks starting seven
England Netball landed their first win, 58-54, against South Africa in the Nations Cup after head coach Jess Thirlby made some tactical changes.
The victory came off the back of their loss against defending world champions New Zealand in the first match.
Thirlby made three changes to the starting seven, with Fran Williams and Stacey Francis in defence, and George Fisher, who was switched in for Eleanor Cardwell at goal shooter.
The Roses started strongly at Birmingham Arena but it was short-lived after the Spar Proteas found their feet and edged in front by three goals, leaving England 13-16 down after the first quarter.
Thirlby was feeling brave and made instant changes, with youngster Amy Carter who came off the bench and led the centre-court with confidence, in what was her second international cap, and Jade Clarke and Kate Shimmin moving to defence.
The Spar Proteas attempted to break down England's attack but the home crowd spurred them on as they came out at the break only one goal down at 26-25.
Thirlby, who is seeing her first run of international matches on home soil since her appointment in July, made further changes.
Captain Nat Haythornthwaite was introduced at goal attack and Cardwell went to goal shooter. The world No 3 side started to pick up the pace and dominated the third quarter taking a five-goal lead at 42-37.
The side completed the job, finding the consistency and fluidity to seal their much-needed victory.
Thirlby said: "We were getting exposed in the first half and had to press the reset button.
"We spoke at half-time how we needed to play smarter but at this level you can't just play with your heart, you have to play with your head too.
"I'm really pleased with the impact the bench made in all areas of the court."
Elsewhere, New Zealand dominated Jamaica 71-45 to add to their winning tally.
Shooter Maia Wilson showed off her ability as she put away 42 of her 45 attempts at goal.
Silver Ferns head coach Noeline Taurua showcased the strength of her squad and forced the Sunshine Girls to make mistakes throughout.
England will now face Jamaica, whilst New Zealand take on South Africa at London's Cooper Box Arena on Saturday.
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