Netball Quad Series: England Vitality Roses beat Australian Diamonds but miss out on title
Roses record 52-49 victory over Diamonds at Copper Box, after New Zealand beat South Africa 62-60 - watch highlights
By Emma Thurston
Last Updated: 21/01/19 11:05am
Tracey Neville's England Vitality Roses finished the 2019 Netball Quad Series with a 52-49 victory over the Australian Diamonds on Sunday, but their rivals took home the overall series title.
The home side ensured that they ended the tournament on a high note after their loss to South Africa on Saturday, by beating Australia for the first time in the competition.
However, they did not quite reach the five-goal winning margin that would have secured their first-ever Quad Series title while also preventing Australia from winning a third successive tournament.
The Roses turned around a slow start at the Copper Box and did lead by the required margin on occasions, but the tenacious Diamonds pulled them back and created the scintillating contest.
Earlier in the day, New Zealand won their first encounter of the series after an incredible marathon match against the ever-improving and determined South Africa.
The competitiveness of this 2019 Quad Series highlights just how closely fought the Netball World Cup will be. And, with the rest of the nations ready to come into the mix, including Jamaica - ranked third in the world - the tournament is set to be the most competitive yet.
England 52-49 Australia
Neville's side went into their final match of the tournament on Sunday off the back of a "disappointing" loss to South Africa - to use the head coach's words - and knew that it would be a battle from start to finish.
Before the first centre-pass, Australia were dealt another injury blow as their starting GK Courtney Bruce was ruled out with concussion.
Bruce joined captain Caitlin Bassett and vice-captain Gabi Simpson on the sidelines but the Diamonds showed their strength in depth early on.
A composed and fast start saw the world-leading side finish the opening quarter with a 14-9 lead and throughout the first 15 minutes, the visitors looked the more fluid of the two sides. In comparison, England's attacking end was slightly off-kilter and did not fire the shots required.
Change for the Vitality Roses: Dunn on, Housby off. Harten moves to GA— England Netball 🌹🏅 (@EnglandNetball) January 20, 2019
Neville made a change at quarter-time, bringing on shooter Rachel Dunn and moving Jo Harten to GA, and it proved to be game-changing.
Dunn quickly established a hold on the game by working extremely well with Harten and showing her understanding with Natalie Haythornthwaite at WA. The result was an 18-10 quarter in the Roses' favour and a 27-24 half-time lead.
The game of chess between the two head coaches continued throughout the second half as they looked to outwit each other's thinking in order to secure victory.
Lisa Alexander changed her attacking end at the half-time interval, in particular with shooter Steph Wood arriving, while Neville held firm after that earlier change.
The Roses pushed out into a six-goal lead early in the third but were never allowed to fully break away. Instead, the match was poised at 41-37 with 15 minutes to play.
The final quarter saw both teams up the ante. The intensity levels sky-rocketed, in exactly the same way it had done when they met in the Commonwealth Games final. Both showed just what it meant to them, with physical exchanges all over the court.
With eight minutes to play, Australia moved back ahead but, roared on by the home fans, the Roses U-turned that momentum and clinically finished the job.
New Zealand 62-60 South Africa (AET)
The duel between South Africa and New Zealand was one of the most thrilling matches of the whole series, as neither side gave the other an inch.
The contest went the distance, and further, before eventually the ever-cool Maria Folau scored the match-winning goal.
Folau's shot arrived after 14 minutes of extra time and the further six minutes of play that was needed for New Zealand to create the two-goal cushion that would end the match.
After both teams had been part of physical contests the day before, energy levels should have been relatively low but instead, every player dug deep and the quality did not dip for a moment.
South Africa had only ever beaten the Silver Ferns once before in their history and the fact that they came so close is yet another indicator of the considerable strides that they are making under head coach Norma Plummer.
New Zealand will not be too happy with a third-place finish in this Quad Series, although they will have taken plenty from the competition and, with the experienced Noeline Taurua, will arrive at July's Netball World Cup ready to hit the ground running.
Sky Sports will show every game of the 2019 Vitality Netball World Cup live in July. A huge year for netball continues with the Vitality Netball Superleague, starting on Monday January 28 when Team Bath take on Surrey Storm, live on Sky Sports.