England avoided a shock home defeat by Uganda with a 50-46 win in their first match of the series at Liverpool’s Echo Arena.
The Roses took a nine-goal lead into half-time but an error-strewn third quarter allowed the She Cranes back in.
A resurgent Uganda levelled the score to 43-43 in the final quarter but Tracey Neville’s side held on.
“We need to learn what to do when they do some back at us,” England captain Serena Guthrie said.
“It’s about playing under pressure and putting the shots away when it matters.
“We’ve been trying to learn to thrive in those situations and not tightening up and tonight it’s clear that we are still working towards that.”
The Commonwealth Games champions’ healthy first-half lead was in part due to them restricting service to Uganda shooter Peace Proscovia.
But four missed shots at the start of the third quarter from the team ranked second in the world gave world number sevens Uganda the opportunity to cut the deficit, as Proscovia had more freedom and was landing her chances.
Neville, who was without a number of key players including regular skipper Ama Agbeze, Geva Mentor and Chelsea Pitman, handed a starting place to recalled 36-year-old shooter Rachel Dunn.
She also took the opportunity to rotate her squad, with one eye on next summer’s Netball World Cup, which takes place in Liverpool.
Guthrie, speaking to BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, said: “We knew it was going to be an exciting game and the crowd were incredible tonight and it’s a little taster of what we can expect at the World Cup.”
The final two games in the three-match series take place at London’s Copper Box on Friday, 30 November (19:00 GMT) and Sunday, 2 December (14:15 GMT), with live commentary from both games on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra.
England starting seven: GK Usuro-Brown, GD Guscoth, WD Clarke, C Guthrie, WA Natalie Haythorntwaite, GA Housby, GS Dunn.
Uganda starting seven: GK Nanfuka, GD Ajio, WD Namuwaya, C Nakachwa, WA Meme, GA Nanyonga, GS Proscovia.
Quarter-time scores: Q1 15-8, Q2 30-21, Q3 38-31, Q4 50-46.