The Wales netball team pictured before a match.

England Retain Netball Europe Open Title In Wales

England retained their European Open Netball title in style, beating Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Fiji over the four-day event.

England, who were third at the 2015 World Cup, selected an inexperienced team with Rosie Huckle, Vicki Oyesola, Gabby Marshall, George Fisher, Summer Artman and Sophie Drakeford-Lewis all making their debut during the weekend.

A last-gasp goal from Lisa Bowman gave Northern Ireland the silver medal when they won 46-45 victory against Scotland. On the opening day Northern Ireland edged out hosts Wales 47-46.

The championships were played at the Sport Wales National Centre in Cardiff, attendances were excellent and Wales captain Suzy Drane said: “We’ve got a lot of fresh blood coming through and we’re reuniting some of the girls coming back in from previous times.

“The bottom line is we need to look at our play and make sure we play our game better for longer.”

England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland all compete at next year’s Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, while the Scots host the European World Cup Qualifiers in Perth during January.

There are two World Cup places available and one team will miss out.

Scottish Thistles, Wales and Northern Ireland play in the qualifiers, while England automatically qualify for the finals  because they are hosting the 2019 championships in Liverpool.

The next test for Wales is their fixture against Team Bath in Ebbw Vale during November.

Welsh reports from Netball Europe in Cardiff: 

Wales 46, Northern Ireland 47

A devastating defeat for the hosts on day one.

Northern Ireland made a strong start, leading by four goals after the first quarter, but Wales hit back with Nia Jones finding inspirational form.

By half-time Wales led by two, but the pinpoint accuracy of Northern Ireland’s goal shooter made all the difference in the third and they established five-goal lead.

Wales enjoyed a sustained period of dominance and clawed their way back with Sarah Llewelyn playing a key role.

In a heartbreaking finish Wales went desperately close to levelling the scores, but the shot narrowly failed to find the mark.

Christina Shaw, a biological sciences student at University of Exeter, earned her first senior cap for Wales.

Quarter scores (Wales first): 11-15; 15-9 (26-24); 7-14 (33-38); 13-9 (46-47).

Wales team: F Davies, S Drane (capt), B Dyke, K Jones, N Jones, C Lewis, S Llewelyn, K Morgan, CL Moseley, G Rowe, C Shaw, A Varey.

Wales 61, Fiji Pearls 40

The teams ranked seventh and eighth in the World went head-to-head in a bruising encounter.

Wales surged into a 9-0 lead before Fiji scored their first goal after six minutes.

Goalshooter Georgia Rowe’s accurate shooting helped to keep Wales ticking along into the second quarter as Fiji ramped up the physicality.

The Pacific Islanders managed to enjoy some decent periods of sustained possession as half-time approached, while Wales impressed and took a 13-goal advantage into the break.

Wales made a sluggish start to the second half with their first goal coming four minutes into the quarter, but Welsh defence was steadfast.

Wales lifted their intensity in the final quarter, while Fern Davies went on from the bench and immediately made an impact with an impressive interception.

Quarter scores (Wales first): 17-6; 14-12 (31-18); 13-13 (44-31); 17-9 (61-40).

Wales team: F Davies, S Drane (capt), B Dyke, C Jones, K Jones, N Jones, C Lewis, S Llewelyn, K Morgan, CL Moseley, G Rowe, C Shaw.

Wales 49, Scottish Thistles 58

A well-drilled Scottish Thistles side had the edge on day three of the championships.

Scotland made a strong start in a high-intensity, passionate contest, but Wales kept in touch and were only two goals adrift going into second quarter.

Wales rang the changes with Nia Jones moving to wing-defence and Fern Davies went on.

Georgia Rowe and Sarah Llewelyn combined well to convert opportunities, but Scotland capitalised on Welsh errors and increased their lead to six midway through the period.

Credit to Wales as they raised the tempo, minimised errors and closed the gap to three at half-time.

The third quarter was bad tempered and physical as Wales sought to put their stamp on the court. Amanda Varey, Suzy Drane and Chelsea Lewis brought new impetus but the Thistles stayed ahead.

Wales were able to pull back to within two goals, but they faded and suffered a second defeat.

Quarter scores (Wales first) 12-14; 11-12 (23-26); 14-14 (37-40); 12-18 (49-58).

Wales team: F Davies, S Drane (capt), B Dyke, K Jones, N Jones, C Lewis, S Llewelyn, CL Moseley, G Rowe, C Shaw, L Thomas, A Varey.

Wales 50, England 72

The Welsh players made a bright, but wayward passes allowed England to pinch a lead.

Bethan Dyke and Suzy Drane linked well at wing-attack and centre respectively to supply Georgia Rowe with scoring opportunities, but it was tough going as England led 40-26 at half-time.

After half-time Cara Lea Moseley and Kyra Jones joined the fray as Wales sought to find some more fluency.

The two sides exchanged goals and, despite not making any impression on the English lead, the Welsh defence looked far sharper as the quarter wore on.

In the final quarter, Moseley took on shooting duties and Wales did find a touch more attacking fluency, but England completed an undefeated record in the tournament.

Quarter scores: 12-18; 26-40; 40-56; 72-50.

Wales team: F Davies, S Drane (capt), B Dyke, K Jones, N Jones, C Lewis, S Llewelyn, CL Moseley, G Rowe, C Shaw, L Thomas, A Varey.

Netball European Open Championships, full results:

Day One

World ranking match: Fiji 34, Scotland 52.

Europe Championships: Wales 46, Northern Ireland 47.

Day two

England 61, Scotland 48

Fiji 61, Wales 40

England 75, Northern Ireland 44

Day three

Fiji 46, Northern Ireland 58

Under-17, Wales 67 Northern Ireland 31

Wales 49, Scotland 58

England 94, Fiji 31

Day four

Scotland 45, Northern Ireland 46

England 72, Wales 50

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