Netball World Cup: England tipped to win title for first time

The Netball World Cup could be another source of sporting pride for England this summer as the hosts aim to follow up their dramatic Commonwealth Games success by lifting the trophy for the first time.

The team – known as the Vitality Roses – start their campaign against Uganda at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool and have been tipped to end title holders Australia’s long spell of dominance.

Coach Tracey Neville – sister of former England footballers Gary and Phil – led her side to glory against them on the Gold Coast just 18 months ago, winning gold in their own back yard.

With the Lionesses having reached the semi-finals of the football World Cup, and England preparing for the final of its one-day cricket counterpart, there seem to be plenty of good omens.

The 10-day tournament – now in its 15th incarnation and consisting of 16 teams – got under way on Friday, with England playing at 7pm.

It promises to be a relentless and fiercely-contested competition, with standards having improved immensely around the globe since the last World Cup four years ago.

Neville is confident her side – who won the Commonwealth gold thanks to a last-second penalty – can cope with the pressure of being expected to perform on home soil.

She said: “Winning and winning again also brings pressure, we have accepted that within the programme.

“Why do we get into sport if we don’t want pressure? That is why we are playing at the elite level, it is pressure that gets us out of bed each day and generates our will to win, and it’s an exhilarating pressure.”

England will follow their match with Uganda by taking on Scotland and Samoa on Saturday and Sunday, and the other home nations also have a busy few days in store.

Northern Ireland started the tournament against Australia and lost 88-24, with Sri Lanka to come on Saturday and then a match against Zimbabwe on Sunday.

Scotland face Samoa on Friday, England on Saturday and Uganda on Sunday.

The second round schedule is formed once the first weekend of fixtures is concluded and the final is due to take place on Sunday, 21 July.

:: Watch England vs Uganda live on Sky Sports Netball from 6.30pm

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