Netballer Natalie is England Euro star

Natalie Haythornthwaite is challenged by Australias Elizabeth Watson during the third international series match at The Copper Box, London in January
Natalie Haythornthwaite is challenged by Australias Elizabeth Watson during the third international series match at The Copper Box, London in January

Barrowford’s Natalie Haythornthwaite helped England Roses win the Netball Europe Open competition in Newcastle at the weekend.

The four-day competition at Northumbria University was contested between England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

England beat Northern Ireland 83-32 in their opening game, before a 70-26 win over Scotland.

And in the deciding game against Wales, England were crowned Netball Europe Open champions with a final score of 81-42.

Success with her country comes on the back of another superb season for Natalie domestically.

Having left Yorkshire Jets for Manchester Thunder, her first season with her new club ended with Thunder top of the Netball Superleague, suffering only one defeat in the regular season.

But Thunder suffered a Grand Final defeat at the Copper Box against Surrey Storm.

Natalie, voted Superleague player of the year last season, was one of Sky Sports’ outstanding performers again.

Pundit Jess Thirlby said: “A former England U21 athlete and rising star within the national squad, Natalie has had a very consistent season for her new team Manchester Thunder.

“Having offered both the GA and WA positions earlier in the season, it is the latter where she has enjoyed more court time and looked most comfortable.

“Her work rate and tenacity are second to none, her commitment to take on defenders at the centre pass and get free is a real strength.

“She transitions well into second phase and her speed of movement and change of direction are a handful for the quickest of defenders.

“Her ability to release the ball quickly, distribute the ball around the circle edge and feed her shooters with accuracy have been impressive. It’s been great to see Natalie build on her performances of last year.”