Wednesday night saw the final installment of the three match series between England and Malawi, and yet again it was a breathtaking game. We caught up with England captain, Ama Agbeze and Malawi Player of the Series, Mwai Kumwenda for their thoughts on the match and the series as a whole.
The Genting Arena in Birmingham hosted the final match between the England Roses and the Malawi Queens. England had already wrapped up the series with two previous wins at the Copperbox in London. However, this had no bearing on how closely fought this game was.
Malawi set the pace early on and raced ahead and led throughout the game. The Queens went eight goals up after the first quarter before being pegged back to a just one goal lead at half time.
The second half saw both sides trade goal for goal, with an average of two goals being scored a minute right throughout the game. It was Malawi who still remained one goal in front at the end of quarter three with a goal being converted right at the end.
This led to a nail-biting, final quarter which once again saw both sides trade goals. England edged in front towards the end and capitalised on some stray passes in the Malawi centre.
Final score – England Roses 62 – 60 Malawi
Player of the match – Natalie Haythornthwaite
Match Officials (Umpires) – Dave Brown, Marie-Louw Van der Merwe, Alison Davies
Player of the Series for Malawi – Mwai Kumwenda
Overall Player of the Series – Ama Agbeze
After the game we spoke with England captain Ama Agbeze.
‘We were down and out after the first quarter and a bit shell-shocked but our passion and determination is what got us back into the game.’
Agbeze reflected on the Series as a whole;
‘We implemented a game plan with just one training session, which shows that the squad had gelled very well.’
Of course both sides will be meeting again next April at the Commonwealth Games, in which Agbeze believes it was good practice to play the Malawi side prior to their meeting in the Gold Coast.
‘It’s good experience for us, it’s good to have video footage of the matches to look back on which will help our preparation for the Commonwealth Games.’
We were also fortunate to catch up with Malawi star shooter Mwai Kumwenda, who reflected on the last couple of weeks.
‘We have learned a lot as a group. We achieved more from playing against a team like England and we have not played many test matches recently’.
Kumwenda received the Player of the Series award for Malawi, and was in optimistic spirits ahead of the upcoming domestic season and the Commonwealth Games.
‘It’s good to play against England and we are looking forward to playing them in the Commonwealth Games.’
Both sides will return to international action early next year as England will feature in the Quad Series in January and Malawi will be a part of the Taini Jamison series in March.
Photo Credit – England Netball