Australia will want to avoid a historic semi-final loss when they face reigning gold medalists England on Saturday night.
The Diamonds have never missed the gold medal in the six Commonwealth Games series where netball has been played.
But after Thursday night’s shocking loss to Jamaica – Australia’s first-ever group stage defeat, the Diamonds will have to reach the final the hard way against England.
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Stacey Marinkovich chose seven against England for that start, with Paige Hadley still sidelined with her calf injury.
Gretel Bueta at target shooter with Steph Wood and Liz Watson in front. Kate Moloney got the nod in the middle, with Ash Brazill, Jo Weston and Courtney Bruce rounding out the back.
The Roses chose Jo Harten at GS, with Helen Housby and Nat Metcalf leading the charge. Jade Clarke got the wink in the middle, while Stacey Francis-Bayman starts at WD, Layla Guscoth at GD and veteran Geva Mentor is back at GK.
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The Diamonds had a big win early on when Roses center Jade Clarke was forced offside in the opening action.
Gretel Bueta converted sales before an early miss put pressure on the Aussies again.
Steph Wood went off center after Clarke got her third penalty early when Helen Housby got England on the board seconds later.
A decisive call against Liz Watson gave England the chance to get the game back on track, and Jo Harten made no mistakes.
“The confidence to let it go, Jo Harten alone (under the post),” commentator Cath Cox said.
A massive collision with the goalpost brought Layla Guscoth down, but the brave defender got back to his feet.
The blow was so powerful that the post shifted and the game had to be stopped to get a replacement.
“She literally straddles and lowers herself,” Cox said.
“I’ve never seen that in a game!”
“Extraordinary images,” added Sue Gaudion.
“We never thought we’d be paused at three-everything to fix a goalpost.”
Jo Weston was tipped off Harten’s back to create another turnover for the Aussies and Wood was able to convert from long distance.
“(Wood’s early shots) were from distance — that’s a real bonus for the Aussies,” Cox said.
Wood managed to pick up the cross direction before Nat Metcalf’s decision to try to go over the top of Courtney Bruce to Jo Harten failed to bear fruit and suddenly the Aussies were ahead by four goals.
Jo Weston was a fingernail of a big intercept, while on the offensive side, Bueta dominated mid-air Geva Mentor to make the scoreboard tick.
“It gets more and more athletic with every challenge,” Cox praised.
Weston got their hands on another ball, but the Roses maintained possession and trailed by three goals.
Wood’s shot at the buzzer failed as the Aussies held on to a three-goal lead 15-12 at the first substitution.
Jess Thirlby changed her midcourt and sent Clarke back to WD, Stacey Francis-Bayman to the bench, and Laura Malcolm came in the middle.
But it was Courtney Bruce with the first pickup of the second term that took advantage of Bueta.
Geva Mentor’s first intercept of the game could not be converted as the Roses were penalized for holding the ball and Australia’s lead was out at five.
Things started to get physical between the Australian defensive duo and Harten, with both Weston and Bruce being penalized.
Bueta was very lucky to get away with movement on her grounded foot to extend the margin to seven when Mentor was awarded another penalty.
“They let the ball go with confidence,” Gaudion praised.
“And accuracy,” Cox added.
A held ball against Harten gave Australia another chance in the second term as Wood pushed the margin to eight.
But an offensive contact with Liz Watson gave the Roses a chance to get one back when Bruce put her body on the line to keep Australia in possession.
Poor hands by Housby sent Australia back on the attack, but the England defense forced the Diamonds to retreat several times before firing the shot.
Trailing eight, the Roses sent Housby to the bench despite her 9/9 output, introducing Ellie Cardwell to the attack on goal.
“England doesn’t seem to have an answer for Wood or Bueta,” Gaudion said.
And Cardwell pushed his way into the game, first against Watson and then Weston.
Harten got involved in the physical challenge when tempers flared.
‘It’s here for young and old,’ said Gaudion.
“Bruce with the shoulder in.
“No party resigns here.”
England coach Thirlby was clearly frustrated with her hands on the bench because of the physicality.
Imogen Allison was introduced to WD and made an immediate impact, but by halftime Australia led 29-23.
Bueta with 22/23 and Wood 7/8 while for England Hearts had 11 goals at 100% and Cardwell 3/4 in her five minutes on the field.