Blog #6 – Bronze Medal Match vs Jamaica
The victory ensured the Roses banished the horrible memories of defeat to the Sunshine Girls at the same stage at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last year.
The performance was one of guts, tenacity and resilience as the victory came less than 24 hours after their 11-goal semi final loss to New Zealand.
The first quarter was an even contest but a flying intercept from star wing defence Serena Guthrie – and the introduction of Sonia Mkoloma at goal defence - was the catalyst for a blistering period of play from England.
They scored nine without reply and never looked back, standing tall in defence and dominating the centre court, with Mancunian Jade Clarke at centre, leaving her best performance of the tournament until last.
England’s attack was also effective and fluid, with Tamsin Greenway offering excellent support to fired-up shooting duo Jo Harten and Pamela Cookey, after recovering from some early nerves.
Interim coach Tracey Neville confirmed to MEN Sport that she is unsure if she will stay in the post on a permanent basis, but hopes to lead England at the next World Cup.
Post-match, former Manchester Thunder coach Neville said: “Bronze is good enough. Technically we weren’t able to put on the same class a performance as New Zealand and Australia in this tournament. I can’t answer whether I will stay right now but England Netball can move forward with the right person in place, should that person be me I hope I can take this team forwards. I didn’t take this job for myself, but for the passion, for those players that needed me and the red and white shone through today and I’m emotional about that.”
On picking up her players after the loss to the Silver Ferns, Neville said players and staff were ‘open and honest’ with each other. “There was a lot of emotion but we decided to concentrate on a couple of things today and that focus, team spirit and getting on task early did it for us.”
England veteran Clarke, 31, who played her club netball for ANZ finalists NSW Swifts last season, is one of England’s most capped players, and experience proved vital with all seven Roses players on court today on 50 caps or more and all played in the last World Cup in 2011.
Several of these England players may have pulled on the red dress for the last time in this tournament, but Clarke is in no rush to make a decision on her international future.
The Partington-born centre courter said. “I always said I’d make a decision on my future after this tournament but I still love the game, I want to celebrate this win and as long as I’m still improving, I’m going to see in the next year.
“Tracey told us we had so many reasons to get that medal for ourselves, for the supporters and the crowd really lifted us. We’ve been talking about turning over more ball all week and today Serena came up with some cracking intercepts. We were brave out there, we were patient in attack and that was the difference. I didn’t want to have any regrets at the end of this. It felt like we won over the whole crowd today and it makes such a difference so thank you to the fans.
They’ve been outstanding and really lifted us and this one is for them too.”
Manchester Thunder captain Sara Bayman added: ” It’s a massive relief to do the job today. We didn’t want to feel like we did at the Commonwealths after coming so close. We showed pride and passion today and did it for the fans. “People have stood by us through tough times and it felt like we owed this to the fans.
“We went out strong and lifted from some big plays like we should have in other games and as a squad, as a seven on court we took the momentum and saw it through.”