England's Vitality Roses stunned by last-second Donnell Wallam lay-up in opening Test against Australia – Sky Sports

  • October 26, 2022

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Last Updated: 26/10/22 11:54am
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England’s Vitality Roses were stunned by a last-second Donnell Wallam lay-up shot in the opener to a three-Test series against Australia.
The visitors drew the match back to 54-54 with 30 seconds to play, before the Diamonds played their centre pass through and, on her international debut, Wallam scored the sensational goal to clinch victory 55-54.
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Wallam is just the third First Nations Diamond after Marcia Ella-Duncan and Sharon Finnan-White and the first in more than two decades.
England and Australia have a quick turnaround before the second Test takes place on Sunday, live on Sky Sports from 8am.
With a more experienced squad available to her, England head coach Jess Thirlby made changes from the line-ups that had faced Uganda.
Helen Housby returned to goal attack and Geva Mentor came in at goal keeper. Beth Cobden and Jo Harten were both unavailable for selection.
The first 15 minutes of the contest saw England hold firm and the drawn 14-14 scoreline was a reflection of their determination to not let Australia out of their sight early.
Two crucial possession gains from Fran Williams early in the second quarter set England’s tone moving forwards and allowed the Roses to open up a three-goal cushion.
Williams, who was player of the series against Uganda, stepped up and picked off ball well as she kept her standards high for the duration of the contest.
With three minutes of the first half remaining, England led 26-21 before the Diamonds took control and wrestled the contest back in their favour.
With England only 27-26 up at half-time, Thirlby made changes across court for the third quarter. Sophie Drakeford-Lewis arrived at goal attack to partner Eleanor Cardwell and Imogen Allison entered at wing defence.
The home side picked up where they left off, though, pressing 32-29 up as they capitalised on a few English errors through court and early nerves shown by Drakeford-Lewis.
With the scores locked at 34 goals apiece, Funmi Fadoju entered to get her first taste of international netball against Australia.
She settled quickly and very well, adding a new dimension in defence, while Cardwell continued to lead by example in the other goal circle.
Fadoju’s tips and possession gains raised England’s energy and kept them in touch with the Diamonds, before the home side again finished strongly to hold a 42-39 advantage going into the last quarter.
Thirlby turned to her bench for the final 15 minutes and made further personnel amendments. In attack, Hannah Joseph arrived at wing attack and Housby returned at goal attack.
Fadoju then set England’s wheels in motion as they scored the first three goals without response to level the match back up.
With 10 minutes remaining, Wallam arrived on court for her debut and the tussle between her and Fadoju took flight. The two youngsters had faced each other previously in Netball’s Super League and thrilled the crowd.
Australia found Wallam quickly and well; she calmly scored her debut goal and an early lay-up was a sign of things to come.
When the Diamonds led 54-52 going into the final minute, England’s Cardwell converted through two quick goals to bring about a tense finish.
With 30 seconds remaining on the clock, the Diamonds took their centre pass. Fadoju’s pressure on a feed into Wallam handed England possession back, only for a mid-court tip to thwart England’s move up court.
Again, the Diamonds looked to Wallam, who gained the ball on the edge, took an enormous step in and calmly slotted a lay-up with six seconds remaining and marked her place in Australian Diamonds history.
©2022 Sky UK

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