Commonwealth Games 2002
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Netball Friday, 26 July, 2002, 20:00 GMT 21:00 UK
England crush Canada
Mair Jones gets to grips with Sri Lanka's Sandya Jayasuriya
Mair Jones scored 31 goals for Wales

England's netball team sent a warning to their rivals by thrashing Canada 87-26 in their opening game at the MEN Arena.

Julie Hoornweg's side completely outplayed their Pool A opponents but know the competition will get a lot tougher as they go in search of a medal.

England, who finished third at the 1998 Commonwealth Games and 1999 World Championships, raced into a 10-1 lead after just five minutes.

Tracey Neville was on form for England
Tracey Neville was on form for England
Their advantage increased to 48-13 and Hoornweg was able to make changes as they played out an easy victory.

England goal shooter Alex Astle said: "It was a good, solid performance. We've done a lot of things to get us on the way to our medal.

"It's always nice to get a few points under your belt and we achieved what we actually set out to achieve when we set foot on court."

Mair Jones scored a last-gasp winner as Wales beat Sri Lanka 48-47 in the other Pool A game.

Goal shooter Jones struck with less than 10 seconds remaining - her 31st goal of the contest - to give her side a flying start.

Sri Lanka dominated the early stages with some slick passing and went into the break with a 25-24 lead.

open quote
We are improving all the time as a team and all the hard work is starting to pay off
end quote
Mair Jones

Wales opened up a 37-34 advantage at the end of the third quarter but had to pull the score back to 47-47 in a thrilling finale before Jones had the final say.

"I am absolutely delighted. It was a nerve-wracking experience," said Jones.

"I knew there wasn't much time left so I had to get the goal in.

"I reckon we could come sixth. We are improving all the time as a team - all the hard work is starting to pay off."

South Africa powered to a 52-42 win over Fiji in the first Pool B match.

Despite a spirited opening by the Fijians at the MEN Arena, South Africa took control in the second half.

Barbados face Jamaica in the evening's other game.

The world's top two teams, Australia and New Zealand, have the day off.

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