First cap for Imogen Allison and 100th for Serena Guthrie as England Netball return to action with three-match tour of New Zealand
University of Bath alumna Imogen Allison made her senior debut and current sporting scholar Sophie Drakeford-Lewis gained more international experience as England Netball took on World Champions New Zealand during a three-match tour.
Team Bath Netball legend Serena Guthrie also won her 100th cap for the Vitality Roses during the Cadbury Netball Series in Hamilton, the first competitive international netball since January.
Wing-defence Allison – who graduated from a Sports & Exercise Science degree course this summer – came off the bench to earn her first cap during the opening match of the series, which New Zealand won 58-45.
Goal-attack Drakeford-Lewis – who combines her netball career with studying Integrated Mechanical & Electical Engineering at the University of Bath, where she is supported by a Bill Whiteley Sports Scholarship – also came on in the second quarter of that match and converted all five of her shots.
That earned Drakeford-Lewis a starting place in the second match and she once again caught the eye as England led at half-time before the World Champions battled back to claim a 54-47 victory.
England co-captain Guthrie – a Commonwealth Champion and three-time World bronze-medallist with the Roses – won her 100th cap in that game but sat out the third and final match after picking up an ankle injury.
Drakeford-Lewis again started the game, scoring with seven of her eight attempts, and University of Bath alumna Yasmin Parsons came on at wing-attack to make her first international appearance against one of the world’s leading nations but it was the Silver Ferns who completed a series victory by winning 62-47.
The Roses players are taking plenty of positives from the experience, though, with Guthrie – a University of Bath Hall of Frame for Sport inductee – saying after her milestone appearance: “If someone had told 18-year-old Serena that I was going to get 100 caps, I would have laughed them out of the room. I’m so grateful, so appreciative to get here. It will live in my memory forever.”
Parsons, who studied Sports Performance and won the Superleague title with Team Bath in 2013, added: “To go out there and represent your country on an international stage means everything to me. It’s an overwhelming feeling and I’m just really happy and grateful for this opportunity.
“I’m also super proud of Imogen. I know what it was like when I got my first cap and it is such an honour and a great feeling to achieve.”
Another Sports Performance graduate, Kadeen Corbin, also featured in two of the three matches for England.