15/04/2024

Gretel Bueta using her length to score on England's defence (Image: England Netball Twitter)

In the second semi-final of the netball in the Commonwealth Games, the historical rivalry between Australia and England was on full display with so much tension and excitement about the match-up. This match lived up to the hype with all the highlights and physicality of two powerhouses in a semi-final match where everything was on the line.

Australia will advance to play in the gold medal match against Jamaica, winning 60-51 over England with their fast ball movement and athleticism that England could not keep up with. The score does not accurately reflect how close the match was at times but does capture the relatively low scoring due to tight defence on both sides.

Australian goal shooter Gretel Bueta responded to criticism levelled at her after the loss to Jamaica a few days ago by having a game we’ve come to expect from her. She stood out with her trademark athleticism and use her frame and length as an advantage in the Diamonds’ fast ball movement. Her reach allowed her to get to rebounds and passes intended going over the back, a plan that did not work in their loss to Jamaica before meeting England.

The Diamonds had a 10-point lead during the final quarter in the game, however England was able to cut it down slightly with runs of their own, punishing Australia’s turnover rate and gaining more possessions in a row that kept the game within arms reach. The first half statistically was almost the same for each team in any category, the difference being the time of possession Australia had compared to England.

Bueta scored 22 of the 29 goals in the first half, being able to execute Australia’s efforts making their way through England’s tight defence. Australia managed the game on their terms as the game progressed, seeing England make significant adjustments, such as their decision to move Jade Clarke to centre halfway through the third quarter for a stretch of possessions.

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The Diamonds being able to make England’s defence unsettled and this resulted in multiple substitutions between Geva Mentor, Layla Guscoth and Eboni Ursoro-Brown and swapping of positions for Stacey Francis-Bayman. This physicality from the Diamonds started at the first centre pass, which has become a hallmark of the Australian style of play.

What will make or break their rematch with Jamaica is whether they are able to defend in the middle and create various ways to allow Bueta to get goals and use her length and her frame. Kate Moloney was a strong defensive presence as a middle defender, being able to play in the passing lanes and interrupt England’s attacking rhythm. 

The Australian Diamonds’ rematch with Jamaica for the goal medal will take place on Monday.

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