England Netball

England beat Jamaica 56-55 to make history and reach their first Commonwealth Games netball final.

Trailing by four going into the final quarter, Jo Harten scored with a second remaining to complete a dramatic comeback.

The Roses will now face Australia in Sunday’s final (4am first centre-pass).

It’ll be the first time the Diamonds and Silver Ferns won’t contest the final since netball was first introduced to the Games at Kuala Lumpur 1998.

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England came into Saturday’s semi-final unbeaten, having won all five of their Pool B matches.

Tracey Neville kept faith with the same starting 7 who beat New Zealand in their last fixture in the preliminary rounds.

It was a nervy start for the Roses with statuesque Jamaican shooter Jhaniele-Fowler Reid opening the scoring before defender Shamera Sterling came through for an intercept to set the Sunshine Girls on the attack and make it 2-0.

England settled and got into the swing of things though with Helen Housby and Harten finding their range and the Roses looked dangerous when working the ball quickly from their centre-pass.

Neville’s side opened up a four-goal lead but Jamaica battled back to 15-all at the end of the first quarter.

Both sides were giving it their all in a bid to make the gold medal match but it was the Sunshine Girls on the front foot in Q2.

Housby put an end to Jamaica’s run of two unanswered goals, but sharp shooting from Fowler-Reid carried her side to a 21-17 lead.

Neville made some early changes with Natalie Haythornthwaite (GA) and Jade Clarke (C) entering the action.

The move appeared to have an immediate impact with some lovely attacking play from the Roses finished by Housby before Haythornthwaite got off the mark.

Geva Mentor and Ama Agbeze were battling hard to thwart the Jamaican attack and keep Fowler-Reid at bay, but Shanice Beckford was on hand to add to the Sunshine Girls’ tally.

The gap was out to eight with minutes to play in the first half but a contact call against Jamaica and a Serena Guthrie intercept allowed the Roses to go in at the break just six behind at 33-27.

Eboni Beckford-Chambers was introduced at goal defence at half-time, but it was her defensive partner Mentor with two huge interceptions at the start of Q3.

Fowler-Reid remained clinical from close in though to keep Jamaica’s score ticking over.

An offside call against Sterling handed the ball back to England and they capitalised before nice movement and clever play from Jade Clarke and Housby saw the Roses cut the gap further.

Top work from Guthrie created an opportunity for Haythornthwaite from range which she nailed but England missed the chance to pull back to within one from their centre-pass and instead the Sunshine Girls stretched ahead to 43-40.

The Roses were unlucky to see an effort bounce out before a long ball into Fowler-Reid was converted with the score standing at 47-43 to Jamaica with 15 minutes to play.

Beckford-Chambers was making her mark and set England on their way through court with Housby coolly finishing to cut the deficit to just two goals.

It was edge-of-the-seat stuff as the Roses got back on level terms at 50-all.

Then a fast and furious period of play, which initially went goal-for-goal, saw England capitalise on an overcooked pass from Jamaica to lead by two.

With 30 seconds standing between the Roses and an historic first final, Jamaica levelled the scores at 55-55.

The semi-final looked to be heading to extra-time when Housby missed with seconds remaining, but Harten claimed the rebound and scored to cause the England bench and fans everywhere to erupt in scenes of jubilation.

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