The 2017 Netball Europe Open Championships is only days away and will feature the best sides Europe has to offer as well as a traveling Fiji Pearls side. Here is our preview.
Defending champions and world number 3 England, have been busy in the past month or so competing at the Quad Series and the Taini Jamison Trophy in Australia and New Zealand. They have since returned back to the Northern Hemisphere and many of the squad featured in the British Fast5 All Stars event that took place in the o2 in London. A squad featuring youth and experience will travel to Cardiff.
For the first time, Fiji have been welcomed to play in Wales. This will be an important tournament for the Pearls as they’ve recently slipped in the INF World Rankings, being leapfrogged by the hosts, Wales. Fiji’s last outing was a 2-0 series defeat by a very good South African side. Fiji Pearls, however, are the third highest ranked team in the competition and will want to impress on their first visit to the Welsh capital.
Ranked 10 in the INF World Rankings, Northern Ireland will play hosts Wales in the opening game of the tournament on Thursday. They then play England on Friday night, Fiji on Saturday morning before finishing off with a game against Scotland on Sunday. Northern Ireland will be captained by Caroline O’Hanlon.
A blend of youth and experience exists within the Scotland squad. Four key players during Scotland’s Netball World Youth Cup campaign have been included in the senior squad. Kelly Boyle, Bethan Goodwin, Niamh McCall and Sarah MacPhail all continue to impress following the tournament in Gaborone earlier in July.
The hosts, who have recently reached their highest position in the INF World Rankings, will want to impress in front of the home crowd. The rankings are very close between Wales and Fiji, therefore their match on Friday evening will be an intriguing watch. Wales close the tournament against neighbors England on Sunday.
Thursday, October 5th
Scotland v Fiji – 4.30pm
Wales v Northern Ireland – 6.30pm
Friday, October 6th
England v Scotland – 12pm
Fiji v Wales – 6pm
England v Northern Ireland – 8pm
Saturday, October 7th
Fiji v Northern Ireland – 10.30am
Wales v Scotland – 4pm
England v Fiji – 6pm
Sunday, October 8th
Scotland v Northern Ireland – 10am
England v Wales – 12pm
Cara Lea Moseley
*Fiji squad not publicly announced as of yet.
Netball Europe Open Championships will be live-streamed for free on Netball Europe YouTube page (found here) and will be shared across all INF social media platforms.
(Photo credit – England Netball)