LONDON (Reuters) – England came within a whisker of winning the Quad Series as they beat Australia 52-49 in a thriller at London’s Copperbox Stadium on Sunday — reviving memories of their Commonwealth Games gold.
After Saturday’s defeat by South Africa, England knew they could still win the title if they beat the world’s top-ranked nation by five points or more.
They fell just short but a repeat of their memorable win over the Australians in last year’s Commonwealth Games finale was a huge boost ahead of July’s World Cup in England.
“Everyone was pumped,” England’s Rachel Dunn told Sky Sports. “The crowd were awesome. But we lost yesterday so we still have a lot of work to do.
“That’s the job for the next six months.”
English netball is experiencing a unprecedented boom after Commonwealth Games glory and being voted ‘Team of the Year’ at the BBC’s prestigious Sports Personality of the Year awards.
This year’s World Cup, to be staged in Liverpool in July, will put the traditional school sport further in the spotlight while the English Superleague is televised live each week.
A sell-out crowd watched the clash with Australia and the England Roses did not disappoint, even if Australia ended top of the table for the third Quad Series in succession, ahead of the hosts on goal percentage, New Zealand and South Africa.
After going behind in the first quarter England led by six on a couple of occasions but Australia hit back to level in the final stages before England grabbed victory.
England head coach Tracey Neville, sister of former Manchester United and England footballers Gary and Phil, hailed an “exceptional” performance from her players.
“We talked about what we had to do and a number of players wanted to show what they can do,” Neville said.
“The girls did an excellent job and I’m so proud.”
All four nations will go into the World Cup with genuine hopes of being crowned champions.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond)