Australia’s Diamonds beat England 60-51 in a hard-fought semi-final to keep their gold medal dreams alive.
In the year It was the Diamonds who exacted revenge in Birmingham after the Roses’ shock one-goal victory in the 2018 Gold Medal competition.
The win means Australia will have another crack at Jamaica, who handed the Diamonds a historic loss on the pool stage, for gold on Monday morning.
The game had everything, including a dramatic delay of game when Rose defender Leila Guscott fell in the goal area.
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Gretel Bueta was the star of the show for the Aussies, scoring 43 goals with 98% accuracy.
Ellie Cardwell tried to get England back into the game with 22 goals after a physical fight with Courtney Bruce was thrown with an elbow.
In the end, however, it was Australia who maintained their impressive run in every gold medal tournament since the introduction of the netball.
Captain Liz Watson told 7Sport after the game: “I thought we had a really good game tonight, everyone was on our side.”
“We’re here for the gold… we’re lucky we’ve played Jamaica in the rounds and see where we can improve and beat them tomorrow.”
Quarter by quarter match report
Stacey Marinkevich picked the same first seven games against Jamaica as he started against England, while Paige Hadley is still sidelined with a calf injury.
Gretel Buetta was out front with goalkeeper Steph Wood and Liz Watson. Kate Moloney gets the nod in the middle, with Ash Brazil, Joe Weston and Courtney Bruce completing the back end.
The Roses selected Joe Harton at GS, with Helen Housby and Nat Metcalf leading the attack. Jed Clarke gets the nod at centre, Stacey Francis-Byman starts at WD, Laila Guscott at GD and veteran Geva Mentor back at GK.
The Diamonds got a big win early on when Roses center Jed Clarke was sent off in the opener.
Gretel Bueta turned the tide before an early defeat lulled the Aussies into pressure.
Steph Wood headed over from mid-range before Clarke slotted home her third penalty, while Helen Housby got England on the board seconds later.
A foul call on Liz Watson gave England a chance to bring the game back into the tie and Joe Harton made no mistake.
A huge collision with the goal post brought down Leila Guscott, but the brave defender got back to her feet.
The impact was so strong, the post was changed and the game had to be stopped so that a substitute could be brought in.
“She’s really down and low,” Cox said.
“I’ve never seen that in a game!”
Sue Gaudion added: “Extraordinary footage.
“We didn’t think we would have to stop three times to adjust the goal post.”
Joe Weston found a tip behind Harton to create another change for the Aussies and Wood converted from long range.
“(Wood’s early shots) were from distance – that’s a real bonus for the Aussies,” Cox said.
Wood managed to catch a cross before Nat Metcalfe decided to try over the top of Courtney Bruce to no avail and suddenly the Australians were four goals ahead.
Weston had a fingernail from a great interception when Weston were on the offensive end before Buetta controlled Guevara’s mentor in the air and sent it past the scoreboard.
“With each test, the sport has increased,” praised Cox.
Weston got their hands on another ball but the Roses maintained possession and a three-goal deficit.
At the first change, 15-12, the Aussies led three to nil, but Wood’s shot at the buzzer failed to fall.
Coach Jess Trilby shuffled her midfield, sending Clarke to WD, Stacey Francis-Byman to the bench and Laura Malcolm to centre.
But it was second-term first choice Courtney Bruce where Buetta did his major work.
Geva Mentor’s first interception of the game could not be converted as the Roses were penalized for the catch and suddenly Australia’s lead was five.
Things started to get physical between the Aussie defender duo and Harton, Weston and Bruce were penalised.
When Mentor took another penalty, Buetta was lucky to move with her feet on the ground to extend the margin to seven.
“They are releasing the ball with confidence,” praised Gaudion.
“And accuracy,” Cox added.
A catch on Harton gave Australia another chance in the second over as Wood pushed the score to eight.
But an offensive contact call on Liz Watson gave the Roses a chance to get one back as Bruce put her body on the line to catch Australia.
Down by eight, the Roses went 9/9, but Ellie Cardwell, who was introduced in attack, sent Housby to the bench.
“England don’t seem to have an answer for either Wood or Butta,” Gaudion said.
And Cardwell pushed him into the game, first with Watson and then Weston.
As tempers flare, Harton steps into the physical challenge.
“It works here for young and old,” Gaudion said.
“Bruce with his shoulder.
“There’s no side going down here.”
England manager Trilby was upset that she had her hands on the bench due to fitness.
Imogen Allison was introduced in the WD and made an immediate impact but at half-time Australia led 29-23.
Buetta is 22/23 and Wood 7/8 for England, with Harton scoring 11 goals at 100% and Cardwell 3/4 in her five minutes on court.
In the third minute, England converted from a ball held by Ash Brazilian.
But Metcalf was penalized for throwing the ball when she put her toe out of play.
Cardwell was spoken to by the jury and told to “keep your opinions to yourself” as his anger threatened to boil over again.
The crowd fell silent as Harton failed to pull a long ball and Australia regrouped. Wood may have missed her first attempt but she made the second count as the lead extended to 9 goals.
“Australia weathered the storm here and they came out on top,” Gaudion praised in the third half.
Cardwell still dropped the shot despite Bruce interrupting the play.
There was a bit of confusion from England as Malcolm came to the bench. Clarke had the wing-back bib but had to move to center when Francis-Byman returned to the court as GD.
“Australia seem to be very fluid in the attack,” Cox said.
Harton’s first missed shot saw Wood push his lead to double figures for the first time in the semi-finals.
England had a chance to close the gap when Watson failed to run on the opening ball, but Weston’s midfield interception turned it back.
Housby is back in action at GA, Cardwell is back at striker and Harton is on the bench as the Roses look to capitalize on the mystery of the woodwork.
A late conversion from Wood allowed England to close to nine goals at 45-46 at the final change.
Much like Jamaica’s quarter-final loss, Australia’s attacking end stalled early in the final period.
As the battle between Cardwell and Bruce continued after each goal, Guscott returned to GD.
“It’s unnecessary now,” Gaudion said.
After being heavily penalized all game, Mentor got a hard-earned layup and Cardwell put away a shot to close the gap to seven points.
Ebony Soso-Brown has been tipped to replace Mentor as the Diamonds struggle to feed their attacking duo, along with former Firebirds teammate Buetta.
A great rebound from Bruce after Cardwell’s miss was wasted as Australia turned the ball over in the middle third.
Despite the impressive intensity, goals were traded as the two sides battled to break Australia’s six-goal lead.
“England quickly ran out of time here,” Cox said.
“Australia seem to have found their rhythm again,” added Gaudion.
Coach Trilby used all her players except youngster Sophie Drakeford-Lewis to reduce Australia’s lead.
Cardwell put England ahead when she won a rebound from Joe Weston, but Housby’s shot fell wide and Ash Brazil was on target.
Buetta pushed the lead to eight with just two minutes remaining as coach Stacey Marinkevich finally smiled on the bench.
Australia ensured a thrilling gold medal match with a Rose victory.
Bueta dropped 43 goals in 44 attempts, while Wood was 17/20. For England, Cardwell finished with 22 of 24, Harton 16 of 17 and Housby 13/14.
Australia will now take on Jamaica in that match on Monday from 5.30am for gold.