Australia and New Zealand have combined to twice show England that a few seconds can make a massive difference between gold and despair.
Although England are well ahead on the Commonwealth Games medals table, their netballers and women’s hockey players were left in tears on Saturday after throwing away leads in the final seconds with upsets and glory in their sight.
Australia took a dramatic gold medal in the hockey after locking the scores with 15 seconds left and then winning the final on penalties, after New Zealand had earlier knocked the English out of the netball semi-final with a goal with one second remaining.
The trans Tasman rivals will now face each other in Sunday’s netball final after Australia beat Jamaica in much more straightforward fashion 57-42 in the other semi-final.
The Hockeyroos went into their final as firm favourites after conceding one goal all tournament but were stunned in the Glasgow rain as England took a 1-0 lead after 48 minutes and held on to it until Australia received a penalty corner with 24 seconds to go.
Anna Flanagan’s corner flick was blocked, but Jodie Kenny threaded the needle to score and take the final into a penalty shootout.
Three brilliant saves by goalkeeper Rachael Lynch gave the Hockeyroos the most thrilling of gold medal victories by 3-1 on penalties.
“It was an amazing feeling. With 14 seconds left on the clock and to score was unbelievable,” Kenny said.
Lynch, described by forward Georgie Parker as the best keeper in the world, was confident going into the shootout.
“Unbelievable. We’ve had some close games but nothing like that. I touched the ball only once so when we got the goal I was confident with our one on ones and with my keeping (in penalties),” she said.
It was one of five gold medals Australia won on the second last day of competition, along with those by pole vaulter Alana Boyd, boxers Andrew Moloney and Shelley Watts and diver Esther Qin.
England is unassailable on top of the medals table with 56 gold in a total of 165, well ahead of Australia’s 45 gold and 132 in all.
Lightweight Watts became Australia’s first female Commonwealth Games boxing gold medallist when she beat India’s Laishram Devi in her final and is now aiming to make more history at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
“I’ll head to the worlds and hopefully get myself a world ranking and then start looking to Rio,” said the 26-year-old from Laurieton, near Port Macquarie.
Watts only started boxing four years ago, about the same time Moloney started thinking about Glasgow after he was beaten in the quarter-finals in Delhi.
Moloney won the flyweight final in a unanimous decision against Pakistan’s Muhammed Waseem who accused the referee and judges of cheating in an expletive-laden tirade after the fight.
“It’s all I’ve thought about for the past four years,” said Moloney.
“All I wanted was the gold medal here.”
Boyd successfully defended her pole vault title in heavy rain at Hampden Park with an ultimate clearance of 4.50m.
And six years after migrating from China, Qin won gold for her adopted country in the three metre springboard.
Australia’s men’s hockey team will be out to emulate the women when they play for a fifth consecutive gold medal against India in the final on Sunday after beating England 4-1 in a fiery semi-final.