England gained experience by beating reigning world champions New Zealand 54-44 to book a Commonwealth Games netball semi-final against Australia.
England were never behind as they worked a point clear at half-time before taking a six-point lead at the end of the third quarter and going up another climb in the last quarter to secure a 10-point lead.
The result, in front of a raucous home crowd at the NEC Arena, means Jess Thirlby’s side will face a repeat of the memorable 2018 final against Australia, who suffered a surprise 57-55 loss to Jamaica in their last group stage game on Thursday .
England manager Thirlby said: “We’re going to reach the semi-finals after winning a team’s scalp over us in the world rankings and that has to be good for confidence.
“It’s a better place than recovering from a loss. This group likes to make history and we have a big task against a struggling team. They’ll be very rational about their performance against Jamaica and still have the same path to the finals as we did.
“I’ve been in this job for three years and I’ve been on a great journey with these players. This is still a group game but the group will draw a lot of energy from this performance.”
Any suggestions that England might be dodging a place in the last four against Australia, who were defeated in dramatic fashion 52-51 on the Gold Coast four years ago, were quickly dismissed as they swept away with a performance inspired by the 37-year-old was underpinned, with goalkeeper Geva Mentor taking the lead.
Mentor fended off the threat of New Zealand goalscorer Grace Nweke, who was 17 years her junior, during a hard-fought battle with the Silver Ferns star that ended with 23 goals from 29 tries.
In contrast, Eleanor Cardwell was the top scorer for England with 26 goals from her own 29 attempts, with Helen Housby just three behind.
The manner of her win over New Zealand – which she beat in the semi-finals of the 2019 World Cup in Liverpool – will not scare England as they head into the round of 16 on Saturday afternoon.
New Zealand meet the Jamaicans, who were six goals down against Australia before the last quarter but struck back to claim a famous victory and reach the semi-finals as Group A winners.
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/new-zealand-australia-jamaica-gold-coast-liverpool-b2138595.html England beat world champions New Zealand to reach Australia in the semi-finals