Commonwealth Games: England beat Jamaica to reach final for first time

2018 Commonwealth Games
Venue: Gold Coast, Australia Dates: 4-15 April
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV and Red Button with extra streams on Connected TVs, BBC Sport website and app; listen on Radio 5 live; follow text updates online. Times and channels

England made history by reaching their first Commonwealth Games netball final with a dramatic comeback over Jamaica in the semi-finals.

Jo Harten netted the winner with one second left to play to put into England into Sunday's final against world number ones Australia.

England were six goals down at half-time, but recovered to win 56-55.

England had never previously reached a major final, with silver after a round-robin at the 1975 World Cup their best.

They will face Australia in Sunday's final (04:02 BST) after the hosts thrashed New Zealand 65-44 in the second semi-final.

"What a comeback for our girls," said England head coach Tracey Neville. "As a player I only dreamed to be in this situation, but I was never good enough. It's great to live my dream through these and they've just done so well."

Since netball was first played at the Commonwealth Games in 1998, all five finals have been contested by Australia and New Zealand.

And only once in the history of both the World Cup and the Commonwealth Games has the final not been played between the two trans-Tasman rivals.

England recover from shocking start

England came into Saturday's semi-final with three victories in their five previous Commonwealth meetings with Jamaica.

The Sunshine Girls had twice beaten them in the bronze-medal match - in Manchester in 2002 and at Glasgow 2014 - and looked to have denied England once again as Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt watched on from the stands.

The Roses looked nervy from the outset as they struggled to contain 6ft 6in Jamaican shooter Jhaniele Fowler-Reid, who dominated the shooting circle.

Fowler-Reid ended the first half with a 100% record in front of goal, while defender Shamera Sterling outplayed Harten at the other end.

"It wasn't pretty," Harten said of the first half. "We played some awful netball in that first half, but that's the fight we have in this dress.

"I had a shocker of a start. I think I had to watch the game and watch my opponent a little bit, and I did that when I came back on. I practise for that shot everyday of my life, so too right I should score that shot."

Eboni Beckford-Chambers and Serena Guthrie
England defender Eboni Beckford-Chambers was introduced by Tracey Neville in the second half

Neville made early changes and when Eboni Beckford-Chambers came on at goal defence at half-time, England began their charge.

England won a crucial third quarter 16-14 to trail by only three going into the final 15 minutes and led in the closing stages, only for Jamaica to level the scores at 55-55 with 30 seconds to play.

England had the centre pass, but the game looked to be heading to extra-time when Helen Housby missed with seven seconds left on the clock.

However, Harten, restored to the shooting circle, claimed the rebound and netted to give England the best result in their history.

The 29-year-old, who plays her domestic netball in Australia said: "It was a really good game for us to go into the final because it shows grit and determination, and it shows anything can happen.

"We're going to go at it all guns blazing in the final."