Diamonds avoid historic defeat to eliminate England in resentful semi-final

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

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

Victory means Australia will get another chance against Jamaica, who handed the Diamonds a historic defeat in the pool stages, for gold in the early hours of Monday morning.

The match had it all, including a stunning late 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 Australians with 43 goals at 98% accuracy.

Ellie Cardwell tried to get England back in the game 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 maintained their remarkable streak in every gold medal game since the introduction of netball.

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

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

Gretel Bueta goes to kiss assistant coach Nicole Richardson. Photo: Mark KolbeSource: Getty Images

QUARTER BY QUARTER MATCH REPORT

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

Gretel Bueta at the goal shooter with Steph Wood and Liz Watson in front. Kate Moloney was given the nod at centre, with Ash Brazill, Jo Weston and Courtney Bruce completing the back.

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

The Diamonds picked up a big win early on when Roses center Jade Clarke was knocked out in the first game.

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

Steph Wood moved from mid-range after Clarke racked up his third penalty early, as Helen Housby put England on the board seconds later.

A decisive call against Liz Watson offered England the chance to salvage the game level, and Jo Harten was right.

A massive collision with the goal post knocked Layla Guscoth down, but the brave defender bounced to her feet.

The impact was so powerful that the post moved and play had to be stopped so that a replacement could be brought in.

“She literally rides and sinks,” Cox said.

“I’ve never seen that in a game!”

“Extraordinary footage,” added Sue Gaudion.

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

Jo Weston was tipped behind Harten to create another turnover for the Australians and Wood was able to convert from long range.

“(Wood’s first shots) were fired from range – that’s a real bonus for the Aussies,” Cox said.

Wood scored a rebound on the crossbar before Nat Metcalf’s decision to try to pass Courtney Bruce paid off and the Australians suddenly took a four-goal lead.

Weston was a fingernail away from a big interception while on the attacking end, Bueta dominated Geva Mentor through the air to keep the scoreboard going.

“It gets more and more athletic with each challenge,” Cox said.

Weston got his hands on another ball but the Roses held onto possession and went down a three-goal deficit.

Wood’s shot on the buzzer didn’t drop as the Aussies took a three-goal lead on the first substitution 15-12.

Coach Jess Thirlby changed his midfield, dropping Clarke to WD, Stacey Francis-Bayman on the bench and Laura Malcolm at centre.

But it was Courtney Bruce with the first second-term revival that Bueta capitalized on.

Geva Mentor’s first interception of the match could not be converted as Roses were penalized for a held ball and suddenly Australia’s lead was reduced to five.

Things started to get physical between the Australian defensive duo and Harten, with Weston and Bruce penalized.

Bueta was very lucky to get away with a move on his grounded foot to extend the margin to seven as Mentor racked up another penalty.

“They release the ball with confidence,” praised Gaudion.

“And precision,” Cox added.

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

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

Down eight, the Roses sent Housby to the bench, despite being out 9/9, with Ellie Cardwell introduced in attack on goal.

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

And Cardwell fought his way into the game, first against Watson and then Weston.

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

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

“Bruce with the shoulder in.

“Neither side is retreating here.”

England coach Thirlby was clearly frustrated at having his hands up on the bench due to his physique.

Imogen Allison was introduced to WD and immediately made an impact but at half-time it was Australia who were leading 29-23.

Bueta with 22/23 and Wood 7/8 while for England Harten scored 11 goals at 100% and Cardwell 3/4 in his five minutes on the pitch.

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

But when Metcalf put a toe offside, she spat possession and was then penalized for throwing the ball away.

Cardwell was also questioned by the referees and told to ‘keep your comments to yourself’ as tempers threatened to boil over again.

The crowd was silenced when Harten was unable to fire a long ball and Australia rallied. Wood may have missed her first attempt, but she made the second count as the lead was nine goals.

“Australia weathered a storm here and they came out on top,” Gaudion said midway through the third.

Bruce halted play but Cardwell dropped the shot anyway.

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

“It looks like Australia are a lot more fluid in attack,” Cox said.

Harten’s first missed shot saw Wood push the lead into double digits for the first time in the semi-finals.

When Watson couldn’t wrap a baseline ball, England had a chance to close the gap, but they knocked it down straight with Weston taking the interception in midfield.

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

A late turnover from Wood took England to nearly nine goals in the last substitution, 45-46.

As in the last quarter loss to Jamaica, Australia’s attack came to a halt early in the final period while on the other side Bruce was booked for his physical attack.

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

“It’s no longer necessary now,” Gaudion said.

Mentor earned the hard-earned dismissal, after being heavily penalized the entire game, and Cardwell dropped the shot to cut the margin to seven.

Eboni Usoro-Brown was given the green light to face his 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 the ball over in the middle third.

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

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

“It looks like Australia have found their groove,” added Gaudion.

Coach Thirlby had used every player on his bench except youngster Sophie Drakeford-Lewis in a bid to reduce Australia’s lead.

Cardwell kept England on when they got the ball from Jo Weston, but Housby’s shot didn’t go down and Ash Brazill was all over the rebound.

Bueta pushed the margin to eight with just two minutes left as coach Stacey Marinkovich finally smiled from the bench.

Australia secured their remarkable gold medal game with a win over the Roses.

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

Australia will now face Jamaica for the gold with this game starting at 5.30am AEST on Monday.