The England Roses u21s lost out 39-59 to Australia in a pulsating World Youth Cup semi-final clash on Friday afternoon.
A nervy opening saw the Diamonds take a six goal lead at the end of the opening quarter but England worked their way back into the game with some fine defensive work.
The second quarter was tied and the Roses were unfortunate not to capitalise on opportunities in a tight third. With an eight goal buffer to overcome, England pushed hard in the final fifteen minutes but were outdone by a classy Australian attack.
They now head into a third place play-off with Fiji on Sunday afternoon with the bronze medal up for grabs.
Despite mixed fortunes off the court, the Pool stage at the 2017 Netball World Youth Cup in Botswana has been a successful one for the England U21 Roses.
A tricky contest faced the team in the opening match of the tournament as they came up against a familiar foe in the form of Wales.
Scintillating attacking display from the England attack drew them clear by half-time and with the bench being used to excellent effect in the second half, the Roses saw out a 69-23 success.
A dominant display the following day against Grenada saw us narrowly miss out on hitting three figures, a final score of 98-25 highlighting a wonderful performance from the team.
On the morning of our third clash in the group stage, several members of the playing team and support staff were struck down with illness.
This meant that a squad of nine would be chosen from for the fixture against Trinidad & Tobago. As a precautionary measure, the support bench was also left bear with only physio Rachel Carter fit enough to take her place on the side lines.
Therefore, making the calls on and off the court were the captaincy duo of Francesca Williams and Gabriella Marshall. The Roses responded to this adversity superbly to take a 75-27 win.
It was a clash of two undefeated sides in the final match of the Pool stage. England faced Fiji and it was a tense opening with the Pacific nation taking a physical game to the Roses.
England fought just as ferociously and a number of wonderful tips and steals in the mid-court allowed the attacking unit to control the match and see out a 63-29 win.
Having topped Pool D, the Roses lined up a game against the second place team in Pool C in the quarter-finals.
In an extraordinary group, Jamaica took the runners-up spot ahead of hosts Botswana after finishing level on points and goal difference but having a marginally better goal average.
A scrappy opening quarter, in which England lost Chiara Semple to injury, saw the game finely balance with the Roses taking a two goal lead.
However, a string of excellent mid-court performances, including a Player of the Match display from vice-captain Gabby Marshall, saw our U21s secure a fine 55-38 victory.
The bronze medal clash between England and Fiji will be shown LIVE on the England Netball facebook page from 1pm on Sunday.
The winner of this match will play-off for gold on Sunday while the defeated side will head to a bronze medal match on the same day.
The team representing England in Botswana is as follows;
Francesca Williams (captain), Gabriella Marshall (vice-captain), Summer Artman, Imogen Allison, Amy Clinton, Iona Darroch, Sophie Drakeford-Lewis, George Fisher, Vicki Oyesola, Razia Quashie, Jessica Shaw, Chiara Semple
Reserves: Halimat Adio, Amy Carter & Paige Reed
Staff: Emily Perry (Head Coach), Denise Ellis (Asst. Coach), Rachel Carter (Physio), Laura McAndrew (Team Manager) Philippa Turner (Doctor), Richard Handyside (Performance Analyst)
A full list of the fixtures and results from the 2017 Netball World Youth Cup can be found here.
Send your messages of support to the team through the official England Netball Facebook and Twitter channels.
Follow the team as they takeover the official U21 Twitter account – and don’t forget to include the hashtag #FindTheUnicorn!
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