Diamonds avoid historic loss to knock out England in spiteful semi final

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Catherine Healey from Fox Sports

The Australian Diamonds have won a spiteful semi final against England, 60-51 to keep their gold medal dream alive.

After the Roses triumphed with a shock one-goal win in the 2018 gold medal clash, it was the Diamonds who extracted revenge in Birmingham.

The victory means Australia will get another crack at Jamaica, who handed the Diamonds a historic loss in the pool stages, for the gold in the early hours of Monday morning.

The match had everything including a stunning delay of game when Roses defender Layla Guscoth crashed heavily into the goal post.

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Gretel Bueta was the star of the show for the Aussies with 43 goals at 98% accuracy.

Ellie Cardwell tried to drag England back into the match with her 22 goals, as her physical battle with Courtney Bruce threatened to boil over with elbows thrown.

But in the end, it was Australia who kept their remarkable run of playing in every gold medal match since netball’s introduction intact.

“I think tonight we had a really great game, the whole crowd was against us,” captain Liz Watson told 7Sport post-match.

“We came for gold ... we’re lucky we played Jamaica in the rounds and see where we can improve and hit them tomorrow.”

Gretel Bueta goes to embrace assistant coach Nicole Richardson. Picture: Mark KolbeSource: Getty Images

QUARTER BY QUARTER MATCH REPORT

Stacey Marinkovich opted for the same starting seven that faced Jamaica to start against England, with Paige Hadley still sidelined with her calf injury.

Gretel Bueta at goal shooter with Steph Wood and Liz Watson out in front. Kate Moloney got the nod at centre, with Ash Brazill, Jo Weston and Courtney Bruce rounding out the back end.

The Roses opted for Jo Harten at GS, with Helen Housby and Nat Metcalf leading the attack. Jade Clarke got the nod at centre while Stacey Francis-Bayman starts at WD, Layla Guscoth at GD and veteran Geva Mentor is back at GK.

The Diamonds had a big win early when Roses centre Jade Clarke was forced offside from the opening play.

Gretel Bueta converted the turnover before an early miss put the Aussies back under pressure.

Steph Wood went from midrange after Clarke racked up her third penalty early, as Helen Housby got England on the board seconds later.

A breaking call against Liz Watson gifted England the chance to get the match back on level terms, and Jo Harten made no mistake.

A huge collision with the goalpost downed Layla Guscoth, but the brave defender bounced back to her feet.

The impact was so forceful, the post shifted and the game had to be stopped so a replacement could be brought out.

“She literally straddles and lowers herself,” Cox said.

“I’ve never seen that in a game!”

“Extraordinary footage,” Sue Gaudion added.

“We never thought we’d be paused at three-all to fix a goal post.”

Jo Weston got a tip from behind Harten to create another turnover for the Aussies and Wood was able to convert from long range.

“(Wood’s early shots) have been from distance - that is a real bonus for the Aussies,” Cox said.

Wood managed a pick up on the transverse before Nat Metcalf’s decision to try and go over the top of Courtney Bruce didn’t pay off and suddenly the Aussies were out to a four-goal lead.

Weston was a fingernail from a big intercept while down the attacking end, Bueta dominated Geva Mentor in the air to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

“It’s getting more and more athletic with every single challenge,” Cox praised.

Weston got hands to another ball but the Roses maintained possession and the three-goal deficit.

Wood’s shot on the buzzer failed to drop as the Aussies took a three-goal lead at the first change 15-12.

Coach Jess Thirlby changed up her midcourt, sending Clarke back to WD, Stacey Francis-Bayman to the bench and Laura Malcolm coming on as centre.

But it was Courtney Bruce with the first pick up of the second term that Bueta capitalised on.

Geva Mentor’s first intercept of the match couldn’t be converted as the Roses were penalised for held ball and suddenly Australia’s lead was out to five.

Things started to get physical between the Aussie defensive duo and Harten with both Weston and Bruce penalised.

Bueta was very fortunate to get away with movement on her grounded foot to extend the margin to seven as Mentor racked up another penalty.

“They are letting the ball go with confidence,” Gaudion praised.

“And accuracy,” Cox added.

A held ball against Harten gave Australia another opportunity in the second term as Wood pushed the margin to eight.

But an offensive contact call on Liz Watson gave the Roses the chance to get one back as Bruce put her body on the line to keep Australia in possession.

Down by eight, the Roses sent Housby to the bench, despite her 9/9 output, with Ellie Cardwell introduced at goal attack.

“England don’t seem to have an answer for either Wood or Bueta,” Gaudion said.

And Cardwell pushed her way into the game, first against Watson and then Weston.

Harten also got involved in the physical challenge as tempers flared.

“It’s on for young and old here,” Gaudion said.

“Bruce with the shoulder in.

“No side is stepping down here.”

England coach Thirlby was clearly frustrated with her hands up on the bench due to the physicality.

Imogen Allison was introduced at WD and immediately had an impact but by half time, it was Australia leading 29-23.

Bueta with 22/23 and Wood 7/8 while for England, Harten had 11 goals at 100% and Cardwell 3/4 in her five minutes on the court.

England got off to the perfect start in the third when Harten converted from an Ash Brazill held ball.

But when Metcalf put a toe offside, she coughed up possession and was then penalised for throwing the ball away.

Cardwell was also spoken to by the umpires and told to “keep your comments to yourself” as tempers once again threatened to boil over.

The crowd was silenced when Harten couldn’t pull in a long ball and Australia regathered. Wood may have missed her first attempt, but she made the second count as the lead was out to nine goals.

“Australia have weathered a storm here and they’ve come out on top,” Gaudion praised midway through the third.

Bruce disrupted play but Cardwell still dropped the shot.

There was some confusion from England as Malcolm came to the bench. Clarke had a wing defender bib on but needed to go to centre as Francis-Bayman returned to the court as GD.

“It feels like Australia are far more fluid in attack,” Cox said.

Harten’s first missed shot saw Wood push the lead out to double figures for the first time in the semi final.

When Watson couldn’t reel in a baseline ball, England had a chance to close the gap but they turned it straight over with Weston taking the midcourt intercept.

Housby returned to the action at GA with Cardwell pushed back to shooter and Harten benched as the Roses looked to capitalise on a Wood miss.

A late turnover from Wood allowed England to close to nine goals at the final change, 45-46.

Like the final quarter of the loss to Jamaica, Australia’s attack end stalled early in the final term as down the other end Bruce was cautioned for her physical attack.

Guscoth returned to GD as the battle between Cardwell and Bruce continued after every goal.

“It’s unnecessary now,” Gaudion said.

Mentor got the hard-earned rejection, after being heavily penalised all game, and Cardwell dropped the shot to narrow the margin to seven.

Eboni Usoro-Brown got the nod to come on against her former Firebirds’ teammate Bueta, replacing Mentor as the Diamonds struggled to feed their attacking duo.

A huge rebound from Bruce after Cardwell’s missed shot was wasted when Australia turned over ball in the centre third.

Despite the remarkable intensity, the two sides traded goals as the Roses struggled to break the six-goal lead of Australia.

“England running out of time here quickly,” Cox said.

“It looks like Australia has found their rhythm again,” Gaudion added.

Coach Thirlby had used every player on her bench except young Sophie Drakeford-Lewis in a bid to cut Australia’s lead.

Cardwell kept England in it when she won back ball from Jo Weston, but Housby’s shot didn’t drop and Ash Brazill was all over the rebound.

Bueta pushed the margin out to eight with just two minutes remaining as coach Stacey Marinkovich finally broke out a smile on the bench.

Australia ensured they kept their remarkable gold medal match run complete with victory over the Roses.

Bueta dropped 43 goals from 44 attempts, while Wood had 17/20. For England, Cardwell finished the top scorer with 22 from 24, Harten had 16 from 17 and Housby 13/14.

Australia will now face Jamaica for gold with that match from 5.30am AEST Monday.