Eighteen days later and in Liverpool rather than Lyon, but there was more heartbreak for England and a Neville in a World Cup semi-final.
This was an agonising 47-45 defeat for the Roses, who were outplayed at the start by an inspired New Zealand side and, despite battling back to take the lead, saw it snatched from them as the clock ran down.
Fifteen times these teams have met at a World Cup, 14 times the Silver Ferns have won and, in doing so yesterday by two goals, they robbed England of a first shot at a World Cup final in its modern format.
England’s dream of winning the 2019 Netball World Cup ended on Saturday afternoon
The tournament hosts lost 47-45 to New Zealand in a tight semi-final at the M&S Bank Arena
Head coach Tracey Neville refused to sound too despondent afterwards but this was not the swansong she would have wanted.
Instead, her team made mistakes they had not over the previous eight days, with too many loose passes at the start, shooting jitters at the worst possible moment and an error-strewn attacking display.
Captain Serena Guthrie, for so much of the tournament a talismanic force at centre, admitted she personally had made too many mistakes, including 19 contact penalties and five turnovers.
Jo Harten was not the shooting machine she has been either and sunk to her knees in disappointment as the klaxon sounded. ‘I’m feeling utterly devastated,’ she said after picking herself up off the court.
Joanne Harten (right) consoles Serena Guthrie after the klaxon in Saturday’s semi-final
New Zealand players hug each other after reaching the final, where they will meet Australia
‘That was the most realistic shot we’ve had of getting into the World Cup final and we’ve just fallen short of our goal which is never a good time.
‘We’ll pick ourselves up and go again tomorrow that’s for sure, we don’t want to finish on a loss in this tournament, we want to take home a bronze medal but we’re absolutely gutted at the moment.’
A nervy start for England saw them go 0-5 down, following an uncharacteristic error in the circle from Harten, and then Guthrie twice finding New Zealand hands with long passes.
Two misses by Harten under the posts then drew gasps from the crowd and it was Helen Housby who got England on the board with nearly four and a half minutes having been played.
The match was arguably lost in those opening minutes. Although England came back, they never regained the rhythm and instinctive play that had given them an unbeaten run to this point in the tournament.
The Silver Ferns were, in contrast, clinical with their goal attack Ameliaranne Ekenasio shooting at 96 per cent success rate and centre Laura Langman endlessly rattling Guthrie in the midcourt. Having been 12-9 down at the first break, the Roses equalised for 13-13 early in the second quarter but numerous turnovers and a miss by Harten enabled New Zealand to race clear again, to lead 18-13.
Chelsea Pitman of England shows a look of dejection after Saturday’s semi with New Zealand
England coach Tracey Neville watches on with a serious look etched on her face in Liverpool
However, it was at this point that Neville made one of the most important coaching decisions of the tournament, switching Housby and Harten to become goal shooter and goal attack respectively and bringing Natalie Haythornthwaite on in place of Chelsea Pitman at wing attack.
The moves paid dividends with space opening up almost instantly.
Having been 13-19 down, the Roses scored 11 of the next 13 goals to go into half-time 24-21 up. But the Silver Ferns came out firing, levelling the score at 25-25 within five minutes. Although England kept nudging in front by one goal, the pendulum swung against them at 31-31 and they never led again.
There was hope at the end when they reduced the deficit from five goals to two, but it was a case of too little, too late for Neville’s team.
The Commonwealth champions will now have to fight South Africa for the consolation bronze medal.
‘I feel a really empty feeling,’ said Guthrie. ‘I think winning is quite addictive and, when you don’t get across that line, it just sucks.
Beaten England players applaud supporters in Liverpool at a packed-out M&S Bank Arena
England’s Helen Housby (right) tries to get the ball past New Zealand’s Casey Kopua (middle)
‘I am hurting, it is difficult to put it into words but, as a leader, I have to stay strong and I will.’
Neville was impassive, saying: ‘I’m actually proud. I think the girls gave it their all. We were playing against a world-class team. The pressure was on the team.
‘We didn’t start well enough. To lose by two to a world-class team is not a disappointing result because anything can happen in a game. We’ve got to pick ourselves up and we’ve got to go again.’
A fortnight ago, she was ruing the ‘really cruel’ side of sport after her twin Phil’s England side lost in the women’s football World Cup semi-final. She may not have shown it but she will hate being shown exactly how that feels.