England netball: Australia beat tourists 55-37 in first Test

Caitlin Bassett shoots for Australia
Bassett was the top scorer in the match with 29 goals

England began their two-match series against world champions Australia with a 55-37 defeat in Bendigo, Victoria.

The hosts led 18-6 at the end of the first quarter and 29-17 at half-time and, though England reduced the gap to seven in the third quarter, Australia finished strongly to win comfortably.

Victory, which came despite Jo Harten's 23 goals from 30 attempts, extended Australia's winning run to 18 matches.

The second match of the series takes places in Canberra on Wednesday.

Australia, who beat England by a point en route to regaining the Commonwealth title in August, made a brisk start at the Bendigo Stadium.

They dominated play in mid-court, with Caitlin Bassett netting 13 goals from 14 attempts in the opening quarter.

But, with a couple of minutes left in the half, Ama Agbeze replaced Eboni Beckford-Chambers and England finished with a flourish to head into the break eight points behind.

That resurgence continued in the third quarter, but Australia scored the final five goals of the period to increase the gap to 12 before going further clear in the final quarter.

England coach Anna Mayes said: "You can win or lose a match in the first quarter and unfortunately they came out really hard.

"It was obvious they were really match sharp after four games against New Zealand and, while we prepared for that, we were a little bit hesitant."

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