‘Career highlight’ for our new Commonwealth champion Guthrie

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For someone who has long-since reached the highest point of club netball on the planet, while being repeatedly picked out as one of the world’s best players, those words must relate to something truly special.

Serena Guthrie … Commonwealth Games gold medallist.

Read that again, and enjoy.

England’s netballers highlighted to a tee why billions watch and participate in sport yesterday morning, with a stunning one-goal, last-second triumph over hot favourites Australia creating history and bringing adrenaline, amazement, joy, and tears to households across the Queen’s Commonwealth.

The Roses had only ever beaten the Diamonds on five occasions in any setting, and had never even reached a Commonwealth Games final before Saturday morning’s thrilling semi-final victory over Jamaica. That game against the Caribbean powerhouses alone provided enough excitement to last a lifetime, with Guthrie’s club team-mate and childhood friend Jo Harten sinking the winning goal on the buzzer after coming from six goals down.

But the girls in red were far from finished.

England entered the final with a guaranteed silver to their name, but as underdogs they were going to have to produce the performance of their careers to turn that into gold. They did just that – overcoming a four-point deficit in the final quarter at the Coomera Indoor Sports Centre to down the hosts in emphatic style and seal the country’s greatest ever netball result.

Peterborough-born Guthrie, who came to the Island as a youngster and left for Team Bath at 16 to pursue her dreams, had earlier branded the 56-55 semi-final triumph as a career highlight. It was a case of ‘righting the wrongs’ of a disappointing Glasgow 2014, which ended with defeat in the bronze play-off. However, that memory was trumped less than 24 hours later, as she ended her second Games campaign unbeaten, and with the finest sporting colour around her neck.

‘This is the best day of my career,’ said Guthrie last night, ahead of the event’s closing ceremony.

‘To go seven [wins] from seven and win the final by one, after taking the game to the Australians like we did … it’s utterly sensational.

‘I couldn’t be happier and prouder to be English.’

As you might expect from a match boasting the top two countries in international netball, neither side was afforded comfort for long. Australia held the slightest of leads at the end of Q1, but Guthrie and Co bounced back to 25-25 by half-time.

The Islander was in a typically combative mood at centre – breaking up Australia’s play through the midcourt and helping the English to a three-goal lead at the start of the third. That advantage was quickly quashed by the home hopefuls, though, and they moved four goals up in the fourth.

It looked gloomy for the visitors, but they still had time to spoil their opponents’ party and begin one of their own.

With five seconds remaining Harten’s rushed shot for victory failed to find the net, and goal-attack Helen Housby’s follow-up suffered the same fate. However, an obstruction call at the death handed Housby another chance.

The rest is history.

Australia 51

England 52

Q1: 14-13. Q2: 25-25. Q3: 38-36.

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