Having had vastly different routes to the semi-final with a lot of blown-out scorelines, there was very little way to compare the Australian and England teams. Australia had walloped Scotland the previous day, and England had an assured, but relatively closer, quarter final against Jamaica. Both had many players from starting seven lineups in their home country’s national league, promising a high-quality affair.

Starting lineups

Australia
GS
 Sasha Glasgow
GA Kiera Austin
WA Hannah Petty
C Jamie-Lee Price
WD Jessica Anstiss
GD Kate Eddy
GK Tara Hincliffe
Bench Matilda Garrett, Claire O’Brien, Teigan O’Shannassy, Emma Ryde, Alice Teague-Neeld
Coach Tania Obst

England
GS
 Georgina Fisher
GA Drakeford-Lewis
WA Iona Darroch
C Gabriella Marshall
WD Imogen Allison
GD Francesca Williams
GK Summer Artman
Bench Halimat Adio, Amy Carter, Amy Clinton, Victoria Oyesola, Razia Quashie, Paige Reed
Coach Emily Perry

Umpires Gareth Fowler, Ann Hay

 

Australia opened with classic quick-release and direct line play, essentially untroubled by the presence of their opponents, while England were putting the ball through under relentless pressure on both passer and receiver, needing to patiently play backwards and reset to find openings. The junior Roses especially struggled to move the ball forwards in the first phase of the centre pass.

The lead up to goal saw Georgina Fisher dominant early, contrasted with both Australian shooters presenting with variety and balance. Keira Austin continued her wonderful form, taking a long lob from captain Hannah Petty on a thunderous drive to the post, with the true shot taking Australia to a 5-2 lead at the five minute mark.

Accuracy was icy from all shooters, although Drakeford-Lewis took almost ten minutes to chime in with her first attempt, despite Fisher being double-teamed. Imaginative dodges, rolls and leads made for successful connections between Darroch and Fisher and suddenly England had cut the margin by four.

However the status quo was restored as the English defence line became less assertive, failing to put on heavy body pressure, capture front space or keep up with Austin’s frequent drives to post. Australia woke themselves up and rallied to lead 14-8 at the first break.

England removed Allison from WD, introduced Oyesola and put Shaw to WA in place of Darroch to start the second term, while Australia swapped Jamie-Lee Price and Jess Anstiss. Fisher continued to be of good availability with a strong front hold, followed with successful shots. The match ran goal-for-goal with Australia making slightly more passing errors under increased defensive pressure. England were still nervous at times but placed the ball well enough, trailing 18-12 halfway through the period.

Excitement built in the next few minutes as Australia relied too much on easy habits and rescuing balls with flair rather than sharp and exacting movement with considered passes. It enabled England to take the ball and convert through the powerful hands of Fisher.

The gap closed to three goals until breaking against Drakeford-Lewis relieved the pressure. Australia were unable to gain clean possession in defence, as England used triangles and swinging of the ball across the circle to better effect. Australia were unable to push ahead on the scoreboard, but lead 26-20 at half time.

England brought on Razia Quashie at GK and Allison came back to WD. Australia swapped the midcourt again – Anstiss at WA, Petty at C, Alice Teague-Neeld at GA, Hincliffe moved to GD, and Garrett came on at GK.

Teague-Neeld moved the ball well but occasionally forced the pass to Glasgow when her partner had inadequate space towards the baseline or away from defense. Fortunately the Australian shooter was capable of dominating with front holds, shots and rebounds throughout the quarter.

The connection of Shaw and Fisher remained strong, despite the added height from Australia’s defenders. Two poorly-executed passes in the English frontline saw Australia extend their lead to 33-23 after eight minutes gone.

Even with the marvellous positioning of Petty and Price, use of space and ball placement to flying midcourters had improved so much for England that their structure was delivering consistent goals. Drakeford-Lewis was at times, while almost absent on the scoreboard, the lightning connection needed to Fisher. The final word for the quarter was a long bomb from Fisher from a penalty, with Australia just nudging ahead to lead by eight heading into the final quarter.

Artman was brought back on to try and tame Sasha Glasgow, but Petty saw small gaps and immediately pounded the passes into the circle. Australia seemed like their usual well-drilled selves, leaping out to a 46-33 lead within the first five minutes. The access to England’s shooters was failing and the shots were dropping short due to the pressure of time running out.

When Anstiss called an injury time with six minutes remaining, to be replaced by O’Brien, England made four positional changes. A combination of these scattered substitutions with the relentless one-on-one marking from Australia for the 60 minutes blew the quarter score out 20-8 for the final quarter.

 

Australia 59 def England 39
Player of the Match:
Tara Hincliffe (Australia)

 

Twitter: @NetballDrewski