Wales Under 21 made it a winning start to their 2019 Netball Europe campaign at the University of Worcester Arena with a 56-48 victory over Scotland U21.

Featuring a team bursting with young talent, Wales took to court in Worcester confidently and made a good start with defender Miquie Walker Jones winning an early tip to disrupt the Scottish attack. Fellow defender Carys Allen showed great vision to fire turnover ball up the court on a couple of occasions. With Scotland getting a couple of calls their way on Wales’ ball, the turnovers did not immediately count on the scoreboard. As a result, it was level-pegging for the first quarter at 12-all.

Early in the second quarter, Wales broke the deadlock with Chloe Dyke and Shona O’Dwyer working the ball patiently to take full advantage of Wales’ defensive efforts. The captain also showed fantastic foresight to spot space out wide on the wing when Wales struggled to breach the Young Thistles’ defence – and give her teammates a get-out-of-jail option into the circle. Scotland had chances of their own, but a few narrow misses at goal again gave the Welsh defenders ammunition and the resulting counter-attacks were always well-timed and clinical. Morganne Dunn and Georgia Jenkins were able to rattle in the shots – each in their own unique styles – and Wales then had a deserved lead at the break.

Jenkins’ first shot of the second half rebounded very awkwardly off the ring, but Jenkins was quick to react and regather the ball to sink it the second time around. Throughout the third quarter, unforced errors continued to plague Scotland and while Wales were not flawless, the players were extraordinarily composed. Wales just took their opportunities when they came, working the ball up to Dunn under the post with disciplined regularity. Before long, the Welsh lead had grown significantly and while there was still lots to do, Wales looked comfortable with 15 minutes left to go.

Beca Hughes came on for Wales to inject pace and dynamism as the whistle went for Q4. Wales’ youngsters looked in great shape as the Thistles struggled to turn the ball over from Wales’ very accurate passing game. There was another great save for Walker Jones but although Scotland had another chance to shoot it, the seconds were quickly falling off the game clock. Scotland seemed to get some momentum in the final five minutes, but, as they looked to assert themselves, they were getting called for contact quite a bit. This allowed Wales to slow things down and maintain their advantage and see out a classy victory in their opening match of the tournament.

Quarter scores: 12-12 (12-12); 13-11 (25-23); 16-10 (41-33); 15-15 (56-48)

Wales: M Dunn, G Jenkins, C Dyke, S O’Dwyer (Capt), E Michael, C Allen & M Walker Jones. Bench: B Dyke, N Evans, B Johnson, C Llewellyn & E Williams.

Wales now take on hosts England (Saturday at 6pm) and there will be quarter score updates on Welsh Netball’s Twitter page.

Images courtesy of Clive Jones PR.