England netball title defence ended by Australia

Hosts: Birmingham Dates: 28 July to 8 August
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV with extra streams on BBC iPlayer, Red Button, BBC Sport website and BBC Sport mobile app; Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live and Sports Extra; live text and clips online.

England’s hopes of a second successive Commonwealth Games netball title were ended as Australia avenged their Gold Coast 2018 defeat to the disappointment of a raucous NEC crowd.

The line-up was a repeat of that final but the result was not as Australia claimed a 60-51 victory.

England fought hard to give their emotional home support the result they desired, but could not match the Diamonds’ quality in the semi-final.

The hosts play New Zealand for bronze.

That match will be at 13:30 BST on Sunday, before the final between Australia and Jamaica at 20:30 the same day.

Jamaica are the form side at the Games and reached their first Commonwealth final with a 67-51 semi-final win against New Zealand, having beaten Australia in the group stage.

England captain Natalie Metcalf told BBC Sport: “To be able to play in front of this crowd is an absolute privilege.

“We have another opportunity tomorrow to play in front of this crowd. They’ve been phenomenal throughout this – the country’s been amazing in being right behind us.

“There is still one game to play and we’re going to do everything possible to get that bronze medal.”

England fight on for fans

England’s netball semi-final was one of the most highly anticipated events in Birmingham on Saturday as fans with homemade signs waited outside asking for spare tickets to get in on the action.

The NEC Arena atmosphere – half sports event, half pop concert – had already reached fever pitch during the warm-up as supporters screamed their welcome for England.

Both sides delivered on court, England’s desire to win in front of the partisan crowd clashing with Australia’s desperation to gain revenge for their Gold Coast defeat four years ago.

That Roses desire was personified by defender Layla Guscoth committing so hard to an attempted interception that she ended up straddling the goalpost, resulting in a break in play to find a new one.

But England could not win through sheer will – Australia combined smoothly and goal shooter Gretel Bueta got the better of Roses goalkeeper Geva Mentor for a 15-12 lead at the end of the first quarter.

England coach Jess Thirlby turned to her strong bench, bringing on Eleanor Cardwell at goal attack and Imogen Allison at wing defence as the hosts found some rhythm.

It was not enough to break the impenetrable Diamonds and England trailed throughout, despite the crowd willing the arms of their defenders to stretch just that little bit further and their shooters to jump that little bit higher.

England managed to draw the final quarter 15-15, but that was the best they could do.

The Roses stayed on court afterwards to give their fans the applause they deserved, and Thirlby’s players will now have to pick themselves up for a bronze-medal match against New Zealand, who they beat comfortably in the group stage.

“It’s really disappointing,” Thirlby said. “It’s not the way you want to be prevented getting to the final, but as with all sport we have to bounce back.

“We didn’t give up, but we’ve put ourselves in a tricky position. When you’re chasing the score it’s not great – we were still found wanting.”

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