England and Scotland open Netball World Cup with wins - but Northern Ireland suffer crushing defeat

Home nation countries have played their opening matches of the Netball World Cup, with successes and failures for the three teams taking part.

Both Scotland and England smashed their opponents in the initial playoffs, as the super summer of sport continues.

Tracey Neville's England squad made a winning start to their World Cup campaign at a packed Liverpool Arena.

England's 64-32 group stage win over Uganda was business-like and wholly expected, but the sense of occasion in which it was played out illustrated the enormous strides made by the sport since Commonwealth Games gold.

Just 25 minutes later, the Scots nailed glory against Samoa - clinching a 53-35 win against the island nation.

It wasn't such a sunny picture for Northern Ireland, losing out 88-24 to competition favourites Australia.

England brought home a win in their first match against Uganda. Credit: PA

Organisers put on a show for those who turned out for the tournament, putting on a stunning opening ceremony.

An impressive display of colour, costume and choreography welcomed players, officials, fans and spectators to Liverpool as part of the 45 minute show.

As athletes walked in, songs from Liverpool's most famous export - The Beatles - played.

Credit: PA
  • How big is netball in the UK?

The all-women teams aren't the only winners in the game.

Netball as a whole is on a scoring streak, with participation in the sport soaring to previously unseen levels.

In Scotland, participation numbers are up 60%, the figures for England and Wales sit at 20%.

It's estimated almost two million people in the UK play netball at least once a week during the season, with the vast majority of players making it the most participated women's sport.

Scotland celebrated their win in their first play off against Samoa. Credit: PA

Sport England reports 280,000 people play the game at least twice a month - and that number is rising.

It's hoped events like the Netball World Cup spur more people to take part.

Fans are willing to turn out to watch big ticket matches too; 12 of the 28 clashes during the tournament sold out before the opener.

The sport is touted by Sport England as perfect for all ages, with many reestablishing skills they learned playing the game at school.

Australia celebrating their win in 2015. Credit: AP

The Aussies remain the hot favourites to retain their 2015 crown.

The team have utterly dominated the World Cup, securing the prime position in 11 of the 14 previous tournaments.

Unsurprisingly bookmakers make Australia the overwhelming favourite to win again.

The Aussies are most commonly priced at 11/10 to be champions.