18th January 2018
The Vitality Roses’ journey looks positive as we recommence for a final weekend at the Netball Quad Series. Lucy Marley looks at what an overall Quad Series win would mean ahead of this summer’s World Cup and whether the team can handle the pressure.
The Vitality Roses have handled increased media attention and expectations exceedingly well since their Commonwealth gold medal win and got their 2019 campaign off to a successful start on Sunday.
The first Roses match saw fans welcome back the world class Geva Mentor and Jo Harten as Serena Guthrie led the side against world number 2 New Zealand. With an exhilarating 3rd quarter which saw Karin Burger sent off, the world number 4s seized control and charged through to an efficient 13-goal victory.
A convincing win is all part and parcel of building excitement and pressure around this weekend. As the Roses take on South Africa on Saturday, can we begin to believe that Sunday’s result against the Diamonds could be a repeat of the Commonwealth win? To not only secure their first Quad Series win, but to foresee a golden summer on home turf?
The competition is fierce but England have proven they are a team to beat. With great expectation comes great pressure but the team seems to take it in their stride, enjoying each other’s company off the court, shown through their unique celebrations which contribute to their dynamic play on court.
As we look ahead to Saturday, however, it would be dangerous to underestimate South Africa’s SPAR Proteas. Sitting only one place behind England in the world rankings, they got off to a strong start against the Diamonds on Sunday and are a force to be reckoned with.
The Vitality Roses narrowly beat the Proteas by 3 goals in September’s Quad Series and by only 2 in the Fast5 Netball World Series in October. The Roses will be wary of history repeating itself, after the 2017 Quad Series saw them beat the Silver Ferns, only to lose to the Proteas by 3 goals. Overconfidence should not be taken from a win against the Ferns if the Roses want to secure a Quad Series title.
Saturday’s contest looks set to be dramatic from the start. The two teams’ 2018 Quad Series clash saw 9 interceptions in the first quarter alone and England taking the win despite South Africa leading for most of the match. The Roses will be aware of the side’s historically strong attacking front, but if Mentor and Usoro-Brown find the same form as Sunday evening, the SPAR Proteas’ attacking post will be a hard place to find.
Sunday will be the day where we dare to dream. Since the Gold Medal there has been a lot of talk around a potential ‘fluke’, ‘one off’ and ‘luck’ when recounting the Commonwealth Final. With the the Vitality Netball Superleague beginning earlier this month enabling the British side to be in peak physicality, this is a golden opportunity to build momentum and prove any naysayers wrong.
The win would not only be exciting in terms of a World Cup but also for netball in the UK. The England team have created a new era in British Netball, they have disturbed the status quo and created role models for future generations to come. A Quad Series win would cement the Roses status as not only a team to seriously compete, but the team to beat.