Barrowford’s Natalie Haythornthwaite helped England claim a 60-55 extra time win against the South African Proteas in Durban on Sunday, as England started their 2017 Quad Series campaign win style.
Haythornthwaite came on for former Australia international Chelsea Pitman at wing attack for the start of the final period, but England took time to adjust to her pace and movement.
As the tension mounted, both sides traded turnovers, but despite some impressive straight-line moves from Haythornthwaite to goal, the South Africans kept up their pressure, and took the lead at 45-44 with four minutes remaining.
However, player of the match Helen Housby maintained her cool under pressure, sinking several vital goals to keep England in contention, and then converted an interception to tie the scores at 48-all at full time, and take the game into extra time for the first time in a Quad Series game.
Despite the best efforts of the South Africans, giving the world number three ranked England a scare, the Roses displayed more purpose in the final period, with several vital interceptions converted with ease by Housby. England led by three goals, 54-51 at the midway point, and had pushed on to take a vital 60-55 win by the full time whistle.
However, Tracey Neville and her team will need to review several areas of concern, or they could be punished by Australia when the two teams meet in London this weekend.
Haythornthwaite said on her instagram page: “The last time I played in extra time was in 2012 in the World Uni Championships – against South Africa, in South Africa! & it happened again tonight!
“Very pleased to get the win tonight, credit to SA for the intense match!”
England hosted New Zealand at the Echo Arena in Liverpool last night, before heading to The SSE Arena, Wembley for the final matches of the Quad Series on Sunday.
New Zealand’s Silver Ferns take on South Africa, while England re-ignite their rivalry with the Australian Diamonds.
The internationals are the start of a busy year for Haythornthwaite, who will link up with her new club Wasps for their Vitality Netball Superleague opener at Sirens on Tuesday, February 21st, live on Sky Sports.
Then follows the ‘Super Ten’ the following week, where all five games of round two of the competition will be played out in one historic day at the Genting Arena in Birmingham.