TWO Hartpury netballers took on the might of the Commonwealth recently as they got the chance to play against the Malawi national team.
Thea Thompson and Paige Reed, who are on Hartpury’s netball programme, represented Hucclecote and played for 30-minute spells against Malawi, who were warming up for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, which starts today.
Reed, who was selected for the England Under-19s potential squad this season at the age of only 16, played goal shooter and goal attack against a well drilled and athletic Malawi defence and Thompson played wing defence and goal defence against the experienced and fast attack.
When Thompson moved to goal defence, she teamed up with former Hartpury player and current Commonwealth England goal keeper, Sam Cook. The pair worked hard to counteract the long ball over to the goal shooter with Thompson winning interceptions and deflections.
While the Hucclecote team lost 77-37, they put up a great fight against a national team and both Reed and Thompson learned quickly how to adapt their play and skills to best match the African style.
Sarah Pretty, Hartpury netball programme manager, said: “The Malawi team were magnificent athletes, showing such flair and physical prowess. That’s no surprise given their coach is the legendary Mary Waya, the Malawi goal shooter who was renowned for her inventive moves and passes on court, fooling defenders at her every turn.
“The Hartpury girls both stood up strong. Paige worked hard to get free from the tight defenders and experimented with rolls, dodges and sprints, which enabled her to sink plenty of goals for her team.
“She worked well with Rosie Allison, the current England Commonwealth player, working to split the defenders.
“Thea is renowned at Hartpury for her fast and gutsy play and she needed to be at her sharpest to tackle the swift Malawi attack.”