Netball Nations Cup 2024: England beat New Zealand 58-57 in thriller to reach final

Netball Nations Cup 2024: England beat New Zealand 58-57 in thriller to reach final

  • It’s Jess Anderson
  • BBC Sport at First Direct Arena

Image source, Getty Images

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Eleanor Cardwell scored 35 from 40 attempts while Helen Housby scored 23 from her 26.

Location: First Direct Arena, Leeds Dates: January 27-28

Access: Commentary on all England matches on BBC Radio 5 Sports Extra and BBC Sounds as well as the BBC Sport website and app

England defeated New Zealand by one goal in a hard fought match to reach the final of the Nations Cup, where they will face world champions Australia on Sunday.

In front of a home crowd at Leeds’ First Direct Arena, the Roses claimed a thrilling 58-57 victory.

The game hit and flowed but England took a three-run lead before the last quarter and came close to winning.

“It’s a bit of a rollercoaster but it’s to be expected,” said head coach Jess Thirlby.

“I still don’t think we’ve worked out how to play against New Zealand’s style but we’ve found our way and I think that way is ridiculous. We have to be better at making decisions. Sometimes we’re good. ‘It’s silly, but have I seen progress? Yes I have.’

England are ranked third in the world while New Zealand are second and Thirlby said he was happy to see his team getting into the habit of beating two of the powerhouses in netball.

“We’re trying to challenge ourselves against Australia and New Zealand as often as we can,” he said.

“We weren’t in a position where we would have expected to win the game by a big margin, and even though it doesn’t look like it, I’m very happy that we’re being tested the way we need to be.”

The match was the latest in a series of exciting games between the Roses and Silver Ferns and, after losing to 12-man Australia last weekend in London, both sides knew they needed a win to book a place in the finals. .

In last year’s World Cup semi-final, England won, denying New Zealand a place in the final for the first time in the tournament’s history, before the Silver Ferns won a three-match tie 2-1 in their final. museum in September.

Thirlby selected a young team in the same line-up but the return of experienced England players and New Zealand striker Grace Nweke, who suffered an injury last year, made for a solid game.

England came out of the blocks and it took three-and-a-half minutes for the Silver Ferns to score, as the Roses raced into a five-goal lead thanks to a stunning save by England international Razia Quashie. for the first time since 2020.

But carelessness on both sides gave the game a sense of disarray – much to the delight of the Leeds crowd – and the Silver Ferns soon clawed their way back, taking a one-goal lead into half-time.

England had a brilliant moment – Fran Williams produced a superb pass to find Eleanor Cardwell under the post as Helen Housby continued to lead from the front in what has been a superb campaign for the 29-year-old.

But, her replacement Ellie Rattu, who made only her ninth England appearance, showed her potential as she forced a powerful New Zealand attack, led by Nweke, who scored 47 of her 50 tries.

Both teams’ benches were on their feet for the final 15 minutes, shouting encouragement and instructions as New Zealand closed the gap with a minute on the clock.

The Silver Ferns had a chance with seconds to spare, but defender Funmi Fadoju came up with a block to keep out Tayla Earle’s pass to Nweke and England raced to victory.

The Roses suffered a two-goal defeat against Australia last week and now face a reshuffle ahead of Sunday’s replay at 16:15 GMT.

Earlier on Saturday, the Diamonds – who are already confident of their place in the finals after two wins in London last week – faced Uganda for the first time in their history, beating them 63-49 and the African side will face New Zealand for third. – Put the play-off on Sunday.

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