England head coach Jess Thirlby admitted it would take some time to get over defeat by Australia in the Netball World Cup final, but believes her squad can be proud of their performances throughout the tournament.
The Roses were making their maiden World Cup final appearance and knew they had to be at their best to win the trophy against a side they had edged out by just a point in their group-stage match.
But Australia dominated the turnover battle and, after the first-quarter honours were shared, steadily built an unassailable lead to run out comfortable 61-45 winners and secure a 12th World Cup crown.
“We are really grateful for that silver medal and over time I think that will sink in, with that bit of history we made (in reaching the final), but right now it is a measure of the belief we had in ourselves, the route we took to the final… (that we are disappointed),” Thirlby told BBC Sport.
“We are obviously going to be gutted with a losing margin like that in our first final, but such is the difference between a team that has been in 12 of them and a team that has just broken into their first one, it’s a tough lesson.
“Today was always going to be a tough ask, you just can’t throw ball like that against Australia in a final. If we do that, we need to find a way to win it back. Unfortunately both of those things eluded us for long periods during the match.
“We fought very hard in the first half to keep a foothold in it, but you could kind of feel we didn’t quite have the flow and the confidence.”
England – bronze medallists at the last three World Cups and six times overall – had built on their group win over the Diamonds to go on to beat New Zealand as they booked a first World Cup final appearance.
Despite the setback, Thirlby feels the squad can return stronger.
“For us now it’s OK to feel a little bit disappointed just because of the level of belief and the capability of this team,” she said.
“I am incredibly proud despite the final result, we absolutely deserved to be there.
“We had to battle to get there and it’s just proven to us that you’ve got to be able to go again in a big game against the number one, and we just fell short today.”
Australia mid-court Ashleigh Brazill brought the curtain down on her netball career with a World Cup winners’ medal.
The 33-year-old – set to retire after the tournament – felt the Diamonds set the record straight following their defeat to England in the group stage.
“To beat England like that, they beat us in the group and everyone loved what Helen (Housby) said, that they were fitter and more energetic than us, that just fired things up,” Brazill told BBC Sport.
“The fact we have done it the way we wanted to, playing some of the best netball we have played in a long time. I’m just so proud of the girls.
“It has taken all of us to get here, the entire 22, all of us, and the fact we are stood here world champions, I couldn’t have asked for a better ending.”