AUSTRALIA has booked its rematch with Jamaica in the Gold Medal match of the Commonwealth Games after defeating an inconsistent England by nine goals overnight. The Aussies were on from the word go, with many surprised at the starting sevens and substitution changes throughout the match, which seemed to keep Australia on the front foot. A charge from the Roses in the middle of the match looked ominous for the Diamonds, but through the work of Ash Brazill and Gretel Bueta, were able to shut out the English attack. In the end, Australia got up 60-51 and advanced through to the decider, while England will face New Zealand again for the Bronze.
ENGLAND 12 | 11 | 13 | 15 (51)
AUSTRALIA 15 | 14 | 16 | 15 (60)
Four years ago on Australia’s home soil, England snatched its first Commonwealth Games Gold with an outstanding win in the dying seconds. Still well in the minds of Aussie fans, they hoped the Diamonds could return the favour, albeit in a semi-final against the home nation. Despite her fantastic form, Eleanor Cardwell started on the bench much to the surprise of many, as Jo Harten was picked to partner with Helen Housby up against the tried and true defence of Courtney Bruce and Jo Weston. The Roses defence of Geva Mentor and Layla Guscoth took on Gretel Bueta and Steph Wood, while Stacey Francis-Bayman was the first of three opponents set to try and quell Diamonds captain Liz Watson.
The teams were neck and neck through the first 10 minutes, before Bueta broke away with three consecutive goals to hand her nation a four-goal buffer. The English responded, then the sides went goal-for goal and Australia headed into quarter time with a 15-12 lead. Laura Malcolm replaced Francis-Bayman to start the second term, but she could not seemingly quell Watson and the Diamonds as Bueta and Wood piled on five of the first six goals, and eight of the first nine to blow the lead out to nine. Housby and Harten added three more, before the substitution was called with Housby surprisingly making way for Cardwell leaving two preferred goal shooters in the circle.
Imogen Allison came on Jade Clarke to try and have a crack at stemming Watson as the Australian had her third opponent in the space of 18 minutes. By half-time, the Diamonds lead by six, 29-23. England closed the gap to four early in the second term off the back of fantastic play from the in-form Cardwell, but Bueta was just too reliable under the post. Clarke replaced Malcolm and Francis-Bayman came on for Guscoth midway through the third term, but the Aussies kept piling on the heat and lead by 11 goals with two minutes left in the term. That prompted the change of Housby coming on for Harten. The Roses closed the gap to nine goals at the last change.
Still unchanged, Australia coach Stacey Marinkovich backed in her starting seven, while her contemporary Jess Thirlby continued to make changes. Malcolm and Guscoth returned for Clarke and Francis-Bayman, while Cardwell continued to piled on the goals. The tension between Cardwell and Courtney Bruce was evident, with neither player backing down and plenty of push and shove. Up the other end of the court, Eboni Usoro-Brown got her chance replacing Mentor, as the Roses closed the gap to six goals. Unfortunately for the home side, Australia kept responding with accuracy, and after a crucial Housby miss and English turnover, Bueta made them pay and the Australians went out to double-digits. Cardwell scored the last goal of the match, but it would not be enough as Australia won 60-51 and advanced to the Gold Medal match.
Australia played the same seven throughout the match, with Bueta shooting 43 goals from 44 attempts, while Wood managed the 17 from 20, and had 17 goal assists from 20 feeds. Watson was outstanding with 27 goal assists from 46 feeds, while Brazill’s work on her opponent Natalie Metcalf – while picking up three deflections and one gain – was a highlight. Despite only playing 35 minutes, Cardwell shot 22 goals from 24 attempts, while Harten (16 from 17) and Housby (13 from 14) contributed. Metcalf still had 15 goal assists from 31 feeds, but did not have the same time and space she normally would have.