England pips Diamonds 56-55 at Netball World Cup in Cape Town

England has scored a drought-busting 56-55 win over Australia to send the Diamonds crashing to their first loss of the 2023 Netball World Cup in Cape Town.

It was England’s first win over Australia in the tournament in 14 attempts, with the Roses, who were six behind at half-time, recovering from eight goals down in the third quarter.

Shooter Eleanor Cardwell hit the go-ahead goal with 47 seconds left on the clock and the Roses pounced on a wayward pass from the Diamonds’ Kiera Austin to regain possession with 23 seconds remaining and hold it for the rest of the game.

England led by five early on and outscored the Diamonds in three of the four quarters.

Tremendous pressure at the start and end of the match, aided by nerveless shooting from Super Netball stars Cardwell and Helen Housby, were big factors in their win.

Thunderbirds title winner Cardwell made 34 of her 35 shots, while Swifts superstar and player of the match Housby landed all 22 of her attempts, as well as notching a team-leading 12 goal assists.

Cara Koenen was a reliable target for Australia with 32 from 34 attempts, with Steph Wood making 19 off 22 and Austin four from five.

The result meant England topped the pool and critical errors across the last two quarters proved costly for Australia, which will probably play either Jamaica or New Zealand in the semi-finals.

“We had a really good second quarter to get that lead, but it was just silly mistakes in that third that got them that run back and made the game really close,” Diamonds captain and wing attack Liz Watson told Fox Sports.

“They were stronger, they wanted it more, so (it was) a disappointing finish.”

Australia trailed 13-8 little more than four minutes from quarter-time but the introduction of goal keeper Sarah Klau for Courtney Bruce galvanised the Diamonds, who rallied to within two by the break.

Klau pulled off a big intercept before Wood converted at the other end to give Australia the lead for the first time, 20-19, almost seven minutes into the second quarter.

Buoyed, Australia moved the ball quicker and more fluently, with goal attack Wood and Watson prominent in the surge which generated a 32-26 half-time Diamonds lead.

England coach Jess Thirlby made an extraordinary 22 changes during the game, and the introduction of midcourt veterans Jade Clarke and Chelsea Pitman after half-time added more bite to the Roses, who at one stage trailed 42-34 in the third quarter.

The Roses capitalised on a couple of unforced errors, and seven straight goals got them to within one heading into the last quarter, in which they outscored Australia 12-10.

“I don’t think we’ve beaten Australia for a long time in a major championship. It was 2018 (in the Commonwealth Games gold-medal match) probably the last final,” Housby told Fox Sports.

“I’m really proud of the composure we had.”

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