The England Roses made it four wins from four at the Commonwealth Games with victory against a feisty Uganda.
In front of a frenetic sold-out crowd, shrieks of the umpires’ whistle were a common occurrence as England ground out the win to continue the defence of their Commonwealth crown.
Geva Mentor, making her sixth appearance at the Games, proved menacing in the goalkeeper bib for the Roses as they took the early lead in quarter one.
The 37-year-old neutralised both of Uganda’s greatest weapons, the towering shooters Proscovia Peace and Mary Cholhok forcing England’s opponents to make several changes in the attacking end. In all, Mentor picked up five gains, five pickups and two intercepts, as she capitalised on through-court pressure being diligently applied by her teammates, meaning at half-time, the Roses were 25-15 in front.
Having had a player sent off when the nations met at the 2019 World Cup, England were under no illusion that Uganda would throw their strength around. Still, the home team found themselves being pushed around with bodies hitting the floor as the Roses pressed ahead.
The match, in many ways, provided the perfect entrée for England’s meeting with the world champions, New Zealand on Thursday. Gritty, physical and demanding the need to adapt, Mentor, speaking after the game, welcomed the preparation the game provided for what lies ahead.
“It was really physical, but it was exactly what we needed. I think just being challenged a bit more on the scoreboard, that physicality, having to make us work more in terms of making the ball do the work and taking those hits, those are the challenges we are going to get coming up against the Kiwis and then Aussies and the Jamaicans.”
The New Zealand and England showdown will determine which team enters the semi-finals as top seeds and, with Australia and Jamaica both firing in Group A, momentum is a precious energy warmly welcomed.
The Roses will take a rest day before they go up against the Silver Ferns on Thursday.