England crush hopes of Euro glory
Northern Ireland's dream of being crowned European netball champions for the first time ended with a heavy 75-44 defeat by England in Cardiff last night.
Powerful full-timers England generally win the annual European Championships all too comfortably, but came to this tournament with a relatively experimental panel.
They were pushed harder than usual in their opening game against Scotland before winning 61-48, while Northern Ireland had overcome hosts Wales 47-46 in their first fixture.
The Scots probably benefited from catching the hot favourites cold as England looked much closer to their formidable best against the girls in green.
England led 17-9 after a disappointing first quarter, but Elaine Rice's side battled to keep the half-time score to 33-22, although the English were up 50-33 going into the last period.
With this morning's Test against Fiji (10.30am) starting just 13 hours after the England game ended, the coach took off a couple of top players for the last quarter.
Captain Caroline O'Hanlon made way for her Larkfield club colleague Neamh Woods at centre, while star shooter Lisa Bowman was also withdrawn with Noleen Lennon moving up front alongside Kyla Bowman.
England put the reshuffled side to the sword in that last 15 minutes, netting a further 25 goals to take their eventual victory margin to a commanding 29.
Fiji are in Cardiff for Tests against each of the home nations alongside the European Championships and have been ranked seventh in the world.