It was another tough night at the office for Northern Ireland’s netballers as they struggled to contain Commonwealth champions England in front of a full house at the NEC Arena.
Roared on by a capacity crowd of 9500 willing the host nation’s netball Roses to emulate their football Lionesses by lifting a trophy, full-timers England put the Warriors to the sword.
The one-sided scoreline of 71-27 was still a big improvement on the 87-16 defeat suffered by NI last time these teams met at a major tournament, the 2011 World Cup quarter-final.
Elaine Rice’s girls in green produced some superb passages of play themselves, matched their opponents for most of the third quarter and never dropped their heads.
Northern Ireland’s shooting percentage of 71 percent was a big improvement on the opening night’s game against world champions New Zealand when they were thrashed 79-20.
Ciara Crosbie scored eight goals for the Warriors with seven apiece for Emma Magee and Jenna Bowman while young Georgie McGrath netted both of her attempts as a late sub.
However, with Gold Coast 2018 hero Helen Housby nailing all 20 of her shots and Ellie Cardwell leading the way with 40 goals, Jo Harten wasn’t even called upon by Jess Thirlby.
Warriors supremo Rice went with an unchanged starting seven from Sunday’s defeat to Malawi, when a disastrous third quarter had scuppered hopes of claiming a notable scalp.
From an ominous 13-4 down, the Warriors secured an even share of the remaining 10 goals in the opening period but were then outscored 20-6 in a frustrating second quarter.
Rice introduced Olivia McDonald and Frances Keenan for the third quarter for Niamh Cooper and Michelle Drayne with Michelle Magee and Fi Toner each shuffling forward a position.
Wing attack Keenan looked lively and coming out the court gave the imposing Magee more influence while Jenna Bowman, on for Crosbie up front, was on song with her shooting.
The Magherafelt woman scored all seven NI goals in that penultimate period but England added 15 and it was 18-5 in the last quarter in spite of McGrath having the last word with a delightful lay-up.
After a rest day, the Warriors play Uganda in a crunch clash on Wednesday before facing Trinidad&Tobago in their final group game the following day.