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Commonwealth Games: England fail in defense of netball gold

England ops defending their miraculous Commonwealth Games netball gold medal were denied by Australia in Saturday’s semi-final.

Four years ago hosts Australia supposedly shoo-in for gold on the Gold Coast had been in netball, but Helen Housby caused a huge upset with a goal with the final touch of this game for the win.

It proved the most iconic moment of these Games but hopes of a repeat were dashed as Australia got their revenge by winning a semi-final they never seemed to lose in Birmingham 2022 by a score of 61-50.

The Aussies, who were bowled over by Jamaica in their last group game, rarely looked in danger of a second successive defeat at the NEC Arena as they won the first three quarters.

Their victory continued their remarkable streak of never making the final of a major championship.

Coach Jess Thirlby said: “We weren’t good enough. We gave ourselves too big a mountain to climb. Big credit to Australia. We know they’re a great team. It’s really disappointing.

England had got off to a great start in their last group game against New Zealand but struggled against the Aussies to move the ball into the attacking third early on.

Thirlby made a series of changes throughout the match, but none of them helped to get the better of the visitors.

Gretal Bueta was at her best as she scored 43 goals from 44 attempts. By contrast, England’s main threat Eleanor Cardwell missed two attempts and Helen Housby and Joanne Harten missed each.

After the first quarter, they were 15-12 down and 29-23 down at halftime after being three times down to nine. The margin they needed to recover going into the final quarter was exactly that.

England picked up their pace in this final quarter and repeatedly came within six, but never looked likely to force a victory and successful defense of their title. They face New Zealand for bronze while Australia face Jamaica for gold.

Looking ahead to the bronze medal game, captain Natalie Metcalf said, “There’s still a game to play, there’s still a lot to play. We have another opportunity to play in front of this audience. We will do everything to win this bronze medal.

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