England beat Australia in World Cup thriller

england-beat-australia-in-world-cup-thriller
Venue: Cape Town, South Africa Dates: 28 July-6 August
Coverage: Watch live coverage on BBC TV and BBC iPlayer, listen to commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live, 5 Sports Extra & BBC Sounds and follow text commentary of selected matches on BBC Sport website and app.

England held their nerve to earn a stunning win over Australia for the first time at a Netball World Cup and finish top of Pool F in South Africa.

England overturned an eight-goal third-quarter deficit to win 56-55 in front of a thrilled crowd.

It is only the second time the Roses have beaten Australia since their Commonwealth Games triumph in 2018.

England will face New Zealand or South Africa in their semi-final while Australia will play Jamaica.

England were already assured of their last four place going into the match on Thursday, but the result means they maintain their unbeaten record with six wins from six.

They have never won a Netball World Cup, having taken the bronze medal at the past three editions.

However, they will gain huge confidence from the way they fought back against world number ones Australia and kept their composure in the final seconds to seal an important win.

“The fact we were eight goals down, to be pushed in the last 15 minutes and still come out on top – you can’t underestimate what that tells me about where the group are at mentally,” head coach Jess Thirlby said.

“We know that we’ve got two games to come and it means nothing if we can’t follow it up. But for today, it is important to allow the players to celebrate.”

Tenacious England secure victory

After England cruised through the rest of their preliminary matches, their clash against 11-time world champions Australia marked their first real test of the tournament.

Thirlby has tinkered with her starting line-up in Cape Town, figuring out the best combination for starting the match and who will have the biggest impact from the bench.

England fired out of the blocks to lead by two after the opening quarter, with favoured shooting partnership Helen Housby and Eleanor Cardwell in scintillating form, missing just one goal between them all match.

But, seeking to reclaim the world title they lost to New Zealand four years ago, Australia adapted quickly, with defender Sarah Klau the key.

Changes were needed in the second half for England to overturn the deficit and they arrived in the form of inexperienced defensive duo Funmi Fadoju and Fran Williams as well as wing-attack Chelsea Pitman.

The substitutions had the desired effect as former Diamond Pitman injected some creativity into the attack while Fadoju and Williams added crucial interceptions along with Imogen Allison, who has had a stellar tournament so far.

With the score poised at 45-44 in favour of Australia going into the final 15 minutes, the Roses struggled to break down the Diamonds’ defence.

But a crucial tip from Williams in the final seconds meant England could maintain possession and play down the clock to take an historic win.

“Every win is a confidence boost for us,” said mid-courter Allison.

“It is something that keeps us going day after day – getting one over Australia is a good one.

“We’ve had some games where we’ve been able to throw out different combinations and that is why we were able to go and do it out there. All the girls that came on had a huge impact.”

England will be keen to not get carried away – Australia lost their final pool match against Jamaica at last year’s Commonwealth Games and went on to win the title – but a win against the Diamonds before the semi-final is a huge marker to lay down.

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