Netball: England earn record win against Australia
England v Australia, International Netball Series
- Bath, Wembley, Birmingham
- 20-26 January
- Live on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra
England beat Australia for only the third time in their history to take a 1-0 lead in the three-Test series.
Anna Mayes' team recorded a 58-53 victory at the University of Bath despite a late comeback from the world number ones.
England dominated early on and a run of 11 unanswered goals took England to a 33-22 half-time lead.
Australia closed to within two goals but a determined fourth quarter saw England hold on for a famous win.
England, ranked three in the world, went into the game only ever having beaten the Diamonds twice in their 59 previous meetings, once in 1981 and once on home soil in 2010.
The two sides met in a quad-series in October, with England heavily beaten, but the hosts were handed a confidence boost before the game when Australia captain Natalie von Bertouch was ruled out through injury.
And watched by a sell-out crowd, England's strong starting line-up took advantage, winning the first quarter 17-12.
Goal shooter Joanne Harten dominated the circle for England, while Ama Agbeze produced a strong performance at goal defence to limit the game of Diamonds goal attack Susan Pratley.
The world champions pegged England back to 22-22 in the second quarter but England's goal glut in the run-up to half-time - with Pamela Cookey at goal attack supporting Harten - gave the home side a strong lead at the half-way mark.
Australia coach Lisa Alexander changed her centre at the end of the first quarter and switched her shooting partnership at half time to try and counter-act England's first-half supremacy.
The tactics worked, as replacement goal shooter Caitlin Bassett, the tallest player on court at 6ft 3in, began to pull back the deficit.
Before the game, Mayes had called for consistency across all quarters, but there was a significant dip from England in the third, not helped by an injury to Agbeze which saw her substituted.
Going into the final 15 minutes the home side led 43-39, but, even though the Aussies applied sustained pressure, England kept their composure to notch their record goal haul against the Diamonds.
"Today is massive for us in terms of giving everyone that belief that we can play the best team in the world and play our game for 60 minutes," said England wing defence Sara Bayman.
Mayes, though, was eager to point out that this is only the first of three important matches.
"We are really pleased but there's a lot of work still to be done," she said. "But today that's an England side that really dealt with the pressure."
The second match of the series is at Wembley Arena on Wednesday.
England: Joanne Harten, Pamela Cookey, Sasha Corbin, Serena Guthrie, Sara Bayman, Ama Agbeze, Eboni Beckford-Chambers
Australia: Catherine Cox, Susan Pratley, Madison Browne, Renae Hallinan, Mo'onia Gerrard, Chanel Gomes, Rebecca Bulley