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'I'm hurting' – Guthrie's Roses fall short in Netball World Cup semi-final

Netball | Published:

ENGLAND'S dreams of lifting the Netball World Cup on home turf were eroded in devastating fashion on Saturday afternoon with defeat at the penultimate hurdle.

Serena Guthrie had a tough day on court at the Netball World Cup Picture: NIGEL FRENCH/PA WIRE

Serena Guthrie's side were second best in their semi-final against New Zealand after a shocking start at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool – one that handed the Silver Ferns a 5-0 lead and set the tone for a tough afternoon all round.

The Roses recovered but then struggled to stamp any authority against a side they had beaten four times in a row recently, finishing 47-45 down. They must now settle for another bronze medal match, against South Africa on Sunday morning.

'It's gutting,' said Guthrie.

'We were confident we could have been in that final and I still stand by [the belief that] we can win a gold medal match. Unfortunately today we didn’t do what we needed to do.

'New Zealand started better than us but we gave ourselves a chance. We had opportunities to win the game and that’s the bit that hurts.

‘For me personally I feel an empty feeling. Winning is addictive and when you don’t get across the line it sucks, to be honest with you. I am hurting but World Cups come and go, games come and go and the world will keep spinning. You can’t sit back and think “what if”.

'We’ve got a game to play still and there’s still a bronze medal up for grabs. We would love to stand on the podium on home soil.'

England’s only previous win over New Zealand at a World Cup came in 1975, by a single goal. That year, the Roses claimed their best-ever finish with a silver medal.

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A repeat was not written in the stars.

With Australia already through and watching the game from the comfort of their hotel 500 yards away, England got off to the worst possible start and endured a first quarter to forget. Three early turnovers went New Zealand’s way while Jo Harten – unstoppable against South Africa on Thursday night – missed her opening two attempts. The hosts were five down and shaky.

That deficit was reduced but passing remained wayward and continued to fall into Kiwi hands. Yes, the Silver Ferns’ defensive efforts were impressive (they were everywhere) but head coach Tracey Neville would have been far from pleased.

The England starting seven who brushed aside South Africa were identical in name but otherwise unrecognisable. They simply could not find each other in attack and fell six behind at 20-14 after working so hard to keep themselves within two before the first break.

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Up stepped Neville with a change that proved inspiring. Natalie Haythornthwaite replaced Chelsea Pitman at wing-attack and the tide turned. Quickly.

New Zealand took their turn on the back foot and a buzzer-beater from Harten made it seven consecutive goals for England to hand them a 24-21 lead at half-time. They had only led for 60 seconds of the entire match.

It wouldn’t be sport without a bit of drama, though, and England's role as pace-setters was not long lasting.

New Zealand rallied, forcing themselves back in front by three in the third quarter and despite numerous chances to restore parity again persistent hesitation by England proved fatal.

Turnovers were not converted as the fourth quarter arrived and sped by – scores that would have forced extra-time, at the very least.

Jason Fox

By Jason Fox
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