England dominate Fiji to reach World Cup semi-finals

England dominate Fiji to reach World Cup semi-finals

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Venue: Cape Town, South Africa Dates: 28 July to 6 August
Coverage: Watch live coverage on BBC TV and BBC iPlayer, listen to commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live, 5 Sports Extra & BBC Sounds and follow text commentary of selected matches on BBC Sport website and app.

England produced their best performance of the Netball World Cup so far to beat Fiji and confirm their place in the semi-finals.

The Roses were dominant in attack and cohesive through the court in an 89-28 win in South Africa.

Eleanor Cardwell scored 40 from 41 attempts and Helen Housby 26 from 28 as England outpaced their opponents.

They will face world number one side Australia on Thursday in their final Pool F match.

England are second in their group behind the Diamonds, who also confirmed their place in the last four with victory over Malawi on Tuesday.

The Roses have struggled so far with slow starts and high error counts.

However they made a drastic improvement against Fiji, with shooters Housby and Cardwell, a much-anticipated partnership in the build-up to the tournament, registering 50 goals between them by half-time.

Imogen Allison was again effective in mid-court while Chelsea Pitman – making her 50th appearance in the Roses dress – provided the shooters with 29 goal assists.

Head coach Jess Thirlby rotated her side in the second half and there was a drop in intensity as their scoring rate decreased but young shooter Olivia Tchine proved a solid option from the bench, while veteran Jade Clarke remains influential at her sixth World Cup.

“This England team have gone pretty much under the radar,” former England defender Eboni Usoro-Brown said on BBC TV.

“Everyone is talking about Jamaica, New Zealand and Australia and what form they are in, but I think England have just quietly gone about their business.”

England players with Chelsea Pitman celebrating her 50th England cap
Chelsea Pitman won World Cup gold with Australia in 2015 before deciding to play for England

‘Quiet confidence in England group’

England were expected to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup and have done so in a comfortable manner, registering five routine wins.

But their biggest test of the tournament so far will come against Australia, with England needing to tighten up errors to play four quarters of high-quality netball in order to challenge the 11-time world champions.

“There is a nice, quiet confidence in the group and I think tonight is a good step in the right direction,” Thirlby said after the win over Fiji.

“I think we are in a good place. We are not getting carried away. We just need to quietly go about our business.”

Consistency levels are bound to fluctuate as Thirlby continues to make changes and solidify her favoured starting seven but the England boss says it is a sign of her faith in the group.

“The fact we are playing all 12 shows you how confident I am in everyone’s ability to come on and impact,” she said.

“I thought you saw again the impact Tchine had when she came on. There lies the value in trusting in your whole team.”

Australia beat Malawi to reach last four

Australia beat a determined Malawi 70-46 to ensure they, like England, maintained a perfect record at this year’s tournament with five wins from five.

The Diamonds lost a quarter for the first time this World Cup with the sides level at 28-28 at half-time.

Australia brought on goal defence Jo Weston and goal shooter Sophie Garbin and surged to a 12-point lead at the end of the third quarter.

Australia goal attack Steph Wood said: “We just built the pressure on Malawi, we got a fair bit of ball in the third quarter.

“Malawi are incredible, they’re a hard team to play against. For us it’s sticking to our game plan, we can push the lead out.”

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