As Australia edged ahead in the final seconds of yesterday’s encounter to win 49-48, the clash between England and the reigning champions proved to be an incredible advertisement for our sport.
Although it wasn’t the result England had hoped for they would have taken great heart from the reception they received from the crowd upon leaving the court, acknowledging how proud the team can be of their performance.
We caught up with Head Coach, Anna Mayes, to hear her thoughts on the game: “It was hyped up as one of the games of the tournament and it definitely delivered. I was really proud of the girls, in particular the way they came out in the first and third quarters. They showed passion and fire in their bellies – exactly what I would expect from this England side, but we are obviously disappointed to lose by one goal.”
“We had our eye on this in terms of trying to make sure we really took it to Australia. I think the girls did that in the majority and credit to them they were probably winning for 58 and a half minutes of the game but you can’t leave that that kind of margin with a side like Australia.”
Despite the defeat, England remain in the hunt for the semi-finals and face a tricky fixture against South Africa later today. Mayes said “There are many ways in which you can reach a final at the Commonwealth Games, we are well aware of that. Yes,
“The game against South Africa is a really important one of us. They are a very up and coming side, and very tenacious in defence, so we need to play smart, and be clinical in defence. We are clear about our game plan, and like I said earlier, tactically we bought it today, it was just finishing off at those critical moments”
The match was a landmark occasion for Jade Clarke who got her 100th cap today. Mayes saved a special mention for her captain; “What an outstanding career Jade Clarke has had, to get her 100th cap at a game like this against Australia. It was just a shame we couldn’t quite finish it off to make it even more special for her by taking that win.”
Geva Mentor stood out with another fantastic performance in defence, linking up brilliantly with the rest of the English defensive unit.
Reflecting on the match Mentor said “It is heart breaking, but I think it is going to be like that because we know we have the capabilities to do it. We have the skill and we know we have the belief. The fact that we were winning it after 58 minutes and 30 seconds just goes to show that we can run with these girls and we can compete with them physically, skill-wise and mentally.
“We are absolutely gutted, it is not what we wanted but I have said all along there are many ways to get to the final and this just instils more fire in the belly and more determination”
The match yesterday was the closest that England have come in upsetting one of the top two in a Commonwealth Games and England’s GK is thrilled with the recent improvement; “It is exciting to think where we are going too and that we have got so close to a top-two team in this tournament, but we want to win and take it to the next level.
“For us, it is about just treasuring the ball that we do get because as a team defensively we turned over so much ball. It is about not putting our shooters under that much pressure at the end that it comes down to just one goal.”
During the second half the action threatened to boil over as the passion and intensity took over with several heated clashes on court. Mentor commented “There was a lot of pressure out there. I think the players that they had on court are people that not only like to run with our players but run through body. We need to be smarter as players - change direction, get that body off us and put our balls into free space.
“It was great for the crowd to watch a highly contested game with less whistle, I really welcome that”
Next up we have South Africa at 5pm this afternoon. You can stay updated by following England Netball on facebook and twitter or tune into the BBC red button and online to watch the action live.