sport

England lose netball semi

Maria Tutaia grabbed a dramatic last-gasp goal to break England hearts and send New Zealand through to their third successive Commonwealth Games netball final.

The experienced Kiwi goal shooter held her nerve to win the game 35-34 to the despair of Anna Mayes' side who had looked on course to reach their first gold medal match.

Amid shredded nerves and in front of a vocal full-house at the SECC venue, England led by four points in the second quarter, four in the third, and three at one point in the fourth, only to falter at the crucial moment.

Against Australia in the pool stage, Jo Harten's miss cost England dear. On this occasion a turnover following an error from Kadeen Corbin gave Tutaia the chance to make the winning shot and leave them crestfallen.

Centre Sara Bayman said: "The gap is small between us and Australia and New Zealand. We've lost in the fourth quarter both by one - we know we are on a level with those teams but you have got to get over the line.

"Whether it is a mental thing or a pressure thing, whatever it is, you have got to have it to win the games like today.

"When we have got a team under the pump, we need to really push on and press that advantage home, and we have not done that - it is a problem we have."

England have now lost in the semi-finals in all six tournaments since netball was introduced to the Games in 1998.

The game started off at breakneck speed with the action swaying one way and then the other.

Despite England making a number of unforced errors they still managed to keep the Silver Ferns at bay and keep the scores level at 10-10 by the end of the first quarter.

Mayes' side then took a stranglehold on the clash by opening up a five goal lead at the midway point of the second quarter.

In a highly-competitive and physical encounter, Kadeen Corbin and Harten, who plays her netball for Waikato Magic in New Zealand, netted some vital goals to keep the momentum in England's court at a rocking SECC in Glasgow.

However, the introduction of Tutaia from the bench played a key part in helping the Kiwis claw back the deficit and take a one goal lead into the break at 20-19.

Bayman was instrumental in keeping the ball moving through the centre of the court to main figurehead Harten, who helped open up a four-goal lead for England.

But the never-say-die attitude of the two-time Commonwealth champions ensured that there would be a final quarter shoot-out by battling back to tie things up at 29-29.

In a nerve-jangling finale England held a three goal advantage with under five minutes remaining, but with the finishing line in sight New Zealand fought back to restore parity at 34-34.

Corbin then missed a great opportunity to hand England the lead before the second-ranked Kiwis kept possession and Tutaia did the rest with just two seconds remaining on the clock to send the defending champions through.

"I am overwhelmed, that's how proud I am of them," said head coach Mayes. "I think for some of these youngsters, the likes of Kadeen, who has never experienced a semi-final, she really fronted up today, I thought she was exceptional. I thought Jo Harten had a sensational semi-final performance.

"Gutted is probably the word I'm going to use continuously, but I am very proud and genuinely believe this is the best England side there's ever been.

"We genuinely believed we could take the semi-final and be playing off for gold tomorro w. But they will come out all guns blazing (for the bronze-medal match), I will guarantee you that. "

Waimarama Taumaunu's New Zealand will take on Australia in Sunday's final after the top-ranked side dispatched Jamaica in the other semi-final 57-42.

It means England will take on the Sunshine Girls in the bronze medal match.