England’s dramatic last-second Commonwealth Games gold medal victory over Australia four years ago was so staggering for the netball world because it was not meant to happen. In Birmingham on Saturday, things reverted to form.
For all that England had a strong belief that they could successfully defend their title on home soil, they entered this tournament ranked third in the world and the best they can now leave with is bronze.
Given what had happened in 2018, hopes were high that another thriller could be in store. In that context, what played out in this semi-final was a total anticlimax.
At no point did England look like winning, falling three goals further behind with each of the first three quarters to leave an insurmountable task. The final 60-51 scoreline reflected Australia’s dominance.
‘We gave ourselves a mountain to climb’
“It’s a defeat so it’s meant to hurt,” said England head coach Jess Thirlby. “We have to acknowledge the pain of losing. Sport is brutal.
“If you play really well and you lose then there’s an element where you can get your heads round it, but today we gave ourselves such a mountain to climb.
“It is a disappointment for now, but we can’t sulk. We are a good team, up until now we have performed really well and grown into the tournament. It’s a blip at a really bad time and tomorrow needs to be a better performance again.”