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Commonwealth Games: Final day set with England battling for bronze

It might not be sunshine and roses in the Commonwealth Games final, but Natalie Metcalf is confident England can win the battle for bronze tomorrow.

In a repeat of that iconic 2018 Gold Coast gold medal match, England fell short this time round but go again tomorrow against New Zealand.

Earlier in the day Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls reached their first ever Commonwealth Games final with a 67-51 over the Silver Ferns on the 60th anniversary of their independence.

The Manchester Thunder player said: “We probably gave ourselves a little bit too much to do too soon in the game.

“Credit where credit’s due, I think the Diamonds came out all guns blazing and we just gave ourselves a bit too much to do.

“We need to acknowledge this loss and own it.

“We’re a really close group and we don’t want to leave the Games with nothing to show for it.

“We’re taking lots of confidence from the fact we beat New Zealand in the group stages and there is still so much to play for.

“We’re gutted not to be able to make the final but it’s really important that we regroup and pull together.”

England fought back valiantly, equalling the Diamonds’ goal score of 15 in the final quarter, but ultimately trailed by too far in the closing stages of the match, 

Imogen Allison and Eleanor Cardwell might not have been part of Jess Thirlby’s starting seven, but the impact they made as substitutes was dynamic, with the Team Bath player picking up a loose ball moments after stepping onto court.

Metcalf added: “We just didn’t look after turnover balls so credit to our defenders, we won us the ball and we just didn’t look after that probably enough in attack.

“I think the margins of our game are so small so it’s so important that in this, we reflect on it and then pull ourselves up, hold our shoulders up and we have another opportunity tomorrow to play in front of this crowd.

“They’ve been phenomenal, the country’s been amazing with being right behind us so it’s one game to play for and we’re going to do everything we can to get that bronze medal.”

Cookey’s corner

Despite the loss, England’s VNSL players were once again in the spotlight with former Team Bath Netball player Pamela Cookey piling on the praise.

With a leaping Layla Guscoth in defence, Cookey commended her strength after a brilliant near interception: “She’s smiling, she’s smiling she knows she was so close on the fly. That was Guscoth personified.”

Back on day one of the group stages, Cookey highlighted Eleanor Cardwell’s impressive abilities on court, skills she has refused to let crumble over the duration of the tournament.

She said: “Cardwell she can pull she can pop off and she can shoot from range. Just so many tricks from her toolbox makes it so hard for defenders to know what to get on top of her.” 

And Cookey has continued to note the brilliance of VNSL players throughout the whole Games.

Towera Vinkhumbo was a key component for Malawi, leading them to a seventh-place finish.

Cookey said: “She has pretty much played all of Malawi’s game due to her impressive presence on court and her combination with defenders either at goal keeper or goal defence.

“She had five intercepts on alone [on day five]. At goalkeeper she shuts down her shooter and then goes out hunting. At goal defence she brings power through the court with impeccable timing.”

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