Dominant England win Netball World Cup opener

England against Barbados
England have finished third in the last three World Cups
Venue: Cape Town, South Africa Dates: 28 July to 6 August
Coverage: Watch live coverage on BBC TV and BBC iPlayer, listen to commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live, 5 Sports Extra & BBC Sounds and follow text commentary of selected matches on BBC Sport website & app

England made a winning start at the Netball World Cup with a dominant victory over a Barbados team featuring two of their former team-mates.

Coach Jess Thirlby’s side lived up to their billing as Pool B favourites with a 90-29 win on day one of the tournament in Cape Town, South Africa.

Fellow Pool B team Scotland came close to an upset against Malawi, leading for three quarters before losing 55-49.

England play their next game against Malawi on Saturday (17:00 BST).

The meeting with Barbados was made particularly interesting as former Roses players Sasha and Kadeen Corbin were playing their first matches for the Caribbean team.

The sisters worked well together in attack but still seemed to be finding their way in terms of gelling with the rest of their new team as they failed to pose a true challenge for England.

Cheered on by fans singing “netball’s coming home”, England took charge in the first quarter, surging 20-8 ahead and then seemed to get better with every quarter, scoring more than 20 goals in each period.

But with goal attack Eleanor Cardwell scoring 30 of 34 goal attempts and England’s overall shooting accuracy at 88%, there is still room for improvement.

When Kadeen Corbin was moved to goal keeper from goal shooter in the fourth quarter, the Barbados attack was further blunted as England won that final quarter 25-7.

Thirlby, saying she was keen for players to shake off any pre-tournament nerves, used all 12 of her players in a move that will save energy for some stiffer tests to come than 14th-ranked Barbados.

There are 16 teams in four pools in the first group stage, with the top three in each pool advancing to the second pool stage, which will determine who advances to the semi-finals. The final is on 6 August.

Emotional scenes as historic World Cup starts

This is the 16th edition of the World Cup and the first time it has been hosted by an African country.

When hosts South Africa lined up to sing their national anthem before their opener against Wales, some players and fans in the packed stands were emotional during a historic moment for the continent.

There was a sell-out 5,000 crowd for that match, which followed a lively opening ceremony, and a noisy atmosphere throughout as the Proteas won 61-50.

But that was in stark contrast to the swathes of empty seats for the day’s earlier matches and those on the 1,000-capacity second court, with some locals telling BBC Sport they felt tickets for the tournament had been too expensive at 500 rand (£22) for children and 700 rand (£31) for adults for the cheapest tickets.

Netball South Africa chief executive Blanche de la Guerre told local media earlier this month that “compared to other World Cups, we’re not expensive” and that tickets included two matches in a session.

South African fans
There was a party atmosphere at the Cape Town International Convention Centre as the World Cup started

Favourites start with big wins

Defending champions New Zealand and rivals Australia started their campaigns with comfortable victories earlier on Friday.

The Silver Ferns beat Trinidad and Tobago 76-27 in Pool D in the opening game of the tournament before 2019 runners-up and 11-time winners Australia romped to a 86-30 win over Zimbabwe in Pool A.

Grace Nweke scored a flawless 31 goals for New Zealand and Maia Wilson made 22 of 24 attempts, with Karin Burger named player of the match.

Cara Koenen scored 29 of 30 for Australia while Sophie Garbin added 27 of 30 and Courtney Bruce was player of the match.

Commonwealth Games silver medallists Jamaica recorded a 105-25 win over Sri Lanka in Pool C.

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