England celebrate their incredible victory.
England celebrate their incredible victory.

‘Gutted’: Diamonds shocked in stunning upset

ENGLAND produced one of the great boilovers of the Commonwealth Games with a thrilling last-second 52-51 win over Australia in netball's pulsating, pressure-packed gold medal match.

Goalshooter Helen Housby hit the winner as time expired to hand England a remarkable victory in their first appearance in a Commonwealth Games decider.

Scores were level with 15 seconds left with England in possession but goal attack Jo Harten missed her shot at the match-winner.

England celebrate their incredible victory.
England celebrate their incredible victory.

Housby got the rebound but missed her shot at glory..

It look like the netball title was going into extra-time for the third time in Commonwealth Games history.

However, Housby received a penalty and another shot at goal and made no mistake, sending the English team into raptures and the Diamonds into the depths of despair.

A devastated Caitlin Bassett praised England's tenacity and hunger in the gold medal match.

"Obviously pretty gutted. It does not feel real. Obviously, we had an amazing one coming into this game, such an amazing team," Bassett said.

"Credit to England, they were physical, slated down - something Australia is known for. They did a good job of smothering us. They played credible as well. It shows that playing the ball here in Australia, our competition is raising the standard of international netball.

"What can I say, just looking forward to getting back and debriefing with the girls. It's not failure to us and it's not going to define us."

England had nothing to lose coming up against the red-hot home nation and they took the fight up to the Aussies in the tradition of Commonwealth Games gold medal matches.

Diamonds legend Laura Geitz after the shock loss.
Diamonds legend Laura Geitz after the shock loss.

This was another edge-of-the-seat affair with the sides going toe-to-toe for the full 60 minutes and the weight of the world on every shot and every pass.

After Jamaica claimed the bronze medal with a 60-55 win over New Zealand to underline the Silver Ferns' miserable and medal-less campaign on the Gold Coast, the new world order for netball continued to take shape.

What odds the final three - in order - at the Commonwealth Games being England, Australia and Jamaica?

Gabi Simpson battles for possession.
Gabi Simpson battles for possession.

You could have named your price at the start of the tournament.

It was obvious very early on that was not going to be a cakewalk for the Diamonds.

England looked poised and applied incredible pressure from the first pass and took an early lead before Australia steadied and held a slender 14-13 lead at the first break.

It was 25-all at halftime with the Diamonds guilty of making uncharacteristic error after uncharacteristic error with England refusing to be intimidated by the host nation.

The capacity crowd was in shock.
The capacity crowd was in shock.

Australia struggled to get quick ball into captain and goalshooter Caitlin Bassett with England defender Geva Mentor making life hell for her Sunshine Coast Lightning teammate.

Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander made wholesale changes at the break with Laura Geitz and April Brandley replaced by Courtney Bruce and Jo Weston in key defensive positions with Caitlin Thwaites and Steph Wood in the attacking circle for Australia.

Winners are grinners.
Winners are grinners.

The capacity crowd at the Coomera Indoor Sports Centre ripped into a "You're the Voice" sing-a-long at halftime but Wood was the rockstar with immediate impact off the bench and shouldered the scoring load, turning a two-goal deficit into a 38-36 lead at three-quarter-time.

The Diamonds got out to a three-goal buffer but a number of turnovers invited the English back into the contest and they took control in the dying minutes.

Harten finished with 34 goals from 39 attempts while Housby added 18 from 21. Bassett led the Diamonds with 22 goals.

Mentor was mighty in defence, finishing with five interceptions and four deflections for England.

The spine of Mentor, Harten and centre Serena Guthrie all play in the Suncorp Super Netball competition which was critical to England's success.

Housby, who hit the match-winner, also plays in Australia for the NSW Swifts, while wing attack Chelsea Pitman also spent a number of years in the domestic Australian competition.

It meant that the English were not scared of the Aussies. They play alongside and against the Diamonds week-in, week-out.

Veteran defender Geva Mentor celebrates the win.
Veteran defender Geva Mentor celebrates the win.

Mentor was the outstanding defender in the Super Netball and the overall MVP in 2017 and led the Lightning to the title in a grand final win over GWS who had Guthrie and Harten in their side.

Big game pressure in Australia is nothing new to any of them.

No backward steps are taken. Especially for a mature side with the average age of 29.

New Zealand's demise can be traced to the Silver Ferns playing in an isolated domestic competition away from the world's best.

The Diamonds were so dominant throughout the pool phase and in the semi-final win over New Zealand but were sabotaged by Poms living in their own backyard.

England will host next year's netball World Cup in Liverpool and will start gold medal favourites as Commonwealth champions.

England coachTracy Neville - the sister of soccer stars Gary and Phil Neville - took over the national coaching role in 2015 and has slowly turned the one-time minor medal contender into a world force.



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