Commonwealth Games 2014: Anna Mayes backs her ‘best-ever’ England netball team to pass tough tests

England, who won bronze at Delhi four years ago, were always in control inside the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre

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The Independent Online

Like any bright young coach, Anna Mayes is ambitious and, like today’s leading coaches, is not afraid to make that ambition plain. She believes her England side will be the best the country has ever produced. That is an assertion that will be tested like never before when they take on Australia on Saturday and South Africa on Sunday at the Commonwealth Games, but Friday’s thumping 65-25 victory over Wales will usher them into the weekend high on confidence.

England, who won bronze at Delhi four years ago, were always in control inside the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre on the banks of the River Clyde, 17-7 up by the end of the first quarter and  29-10 ahead at half-time. Nineteen goals in the third quarter killed their first Pool B contest and allowed them to cruise through the final minutes.

“I’m delighted with the start,” said Mayes. “The first game always sets the tone for the tournament and I was really pleased. We’ve been waiting for this day to come for so long that sometimes the excitement and adrenalin can get a bit heavy.

“We had a good start and demonstrated patience in attack and I feel like everyone had a great impact.

“Glasgow have been so  welcoming,” Mayes added, “and we’re just to build day by day and I genuinely believe this will be the best England side there has ever been.”

Jo Harten led the way for England, scoring 33 times from 43 attempts, while Rachel Dunn found the target with 20 of her 22 efforts.

“It was a promising start for us, there are always nerves around the first game so the fact we were able to leave them in the changing-room and have a strong start on court put us in good stead,” said Geva Mentor, England’s goalkeeper who is based in Melbourne.

“There was a patch in the second and the third quarter where we slowed, but it is about consistency for us.

“We’re always working for that perfect game as a team and as individuals, but when you combine everything, that will click.

“We have a tough game against Australia and we will build for that,” Mentor added, “and it’s about putting ourselves in the best possible position.”

Mayes’s optimism is founded on England’s recent form. Last year they earned their first series win over Australia in a season in which they lost only one match. A repeat victory against Australia today, and another against South Africa, would in all likelihood mean avoiding a semi-final against New Zealand, the favourites, who have won the last two Commonwealth golds.