Natalie Metcalf and England Roses out to thwart Australia once again at Commonwealth Games

Keighley’s Natalie Metcalf is hoping home advantage will prove decisive as England take on arch-rivals Australia in this weekend’s Commonwealth Games netball semi-finals.

The defending champions beat world champions New Zealand by a whopping ten points in their final group game on Thursday to set up a red-hot final four date with the world’s No 1 side.

There are no easy routes to defend their title here but Australia were shocked by Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls in their final group match.

“I’m so proud of these girls and how they are fighting,” said Metcalf (nee Haythornthwaite), after the 54-44 win over the Kiwis.

Natalie Metcalf of Team England holds the ball during the Netball Pool B match between Team England and Team Uganda on day five of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games at NEC Arena on August 02. (Picture: Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

“This is just the group stages but anytime you beat the world champions then it’s got to be good for confidence.

“The spirit in this team is really special and the support we are getting, it makes you emotional, you just have to keep everything in check.

“We know Australia will be wounded after losing, I know lots of people will be shocked, but Jamaica are a top team. We will take a lot of energy into the match and it’s a huge game.”

Before their win on the Gold Coast, England’s Roses and Jamaica had traditionally slugged it out for the bronze medal but perhaps there is a new netball world order to disrupt that Anzac 
spirit.

Natalie Metcalf and England thumped world champions New Zealand in their final pool game (Picture: Getty Images)

Helen Housby’s dramatic last- gasp shot for glory in the Gold Coast meant netball was always one of the hottest tickets at these Games.

And Australia have made no secret they are out to avenge losing so dramatically on home soil.

No team has ever lost a match in the group stages and won gold while England have lost, drawn and won their last three games against the 11-time world champion Diamonds.

“How bloody exciting, if we can get the job done on Australia on Saturday and Jamaica can beat New Zealand, it would be a final we’ve never seen before, that’s so refreshing and exciting for netball,” said team veteran Geva Mentor, who produced a defensive masterclass against New Zealand.

“They’ll go away and do their homework; I know how hard they’ll view the game and I expect them to be licking their wounds.”

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