Victory against highly-fancied Jamaica on Monday meant England were all-but-secured of their last-four spot and they obliged thanks to the introduction of Helen Housby in the second quarter to continue their 100 per cent record.
Australia and New Zealand sealed their place in the last four on Tuesday and South Africa completed the line-up beating Uganda 67-40 in the final match of the evening to rubberstamp both the Roses and Proteas place in Saturday’s semi-finals.
Beaten in the last four in each of the last seven tournaments, the minimum requirement for Tracey Neville’s Commonwealth gold-winning group of players is the final and they are now almost one game away.
For South Africa, England is proving to be a lucky host as their progress represents a first ever World Cup semi-final and the hope of a first final since their runner-up finish in Birmingham in 1995.
Thursday’s clash between the pair will now decide the group winner, as will Australia’s clash with New Zealand in the morning.
The early afternoon focus was on England’s return as they seek to end almost three decades of semi-final heartbreak.
Neville had promised to utilise the full squad as she manages the demands of a draining schedule and she was true to her word, with all 11 players getting court time after Tuesday’s day off and Nat Haythornthwaite and Rachel Dunn given a start.
“It’s total load management, I knew we would come out a little bit flat today after a day off and then a really important game to secure a semi-final place,” Neville said after the game.
“Some players ended up in positions they may not have expected but I said before the tournament it is about team performance and about getting the wins.
“I’m glad we got 72 goals and while we were not quite as clinical as we wanted I did not expect to be today. We started well but made three errors in the second quarter and we can’t afford to put our defenders under that sort of pressure.
“But we smartened up, got back into the game and managed to win every quarter.”
Following a dominant first quarter, with Geva Mentor and Eboni Usoro-Brown to the fore and Jo Harten again inspired, England were pegged back by a sprightly Trinidad & Tobago who led the second period and left England facing the prospect of losing a quarter for the first time.
However, Dunn’s wrist injury in the second quarter saw Housby introduced and as well as a more fluid circle she combined with Jade Clarke to force a crucial turnover that inspired a 14-2 run for the Roses and an 18-goal lead at the break.
“We have a full squad who can all do a job so we go out there and play the quarters we are given,” said Housby.
“It was a different feeling to come off the bench but I just love being out there on the court, the whole team does.”
With an eye on the next three games, Neville continued to ring the changes throughout the third and fourth quarters, Mentor given a break after playing more quarters than any other England player coming into the game and Chelsea Pitman given a rare outing in the centre bib.
Trinidad & Tobago kept pace for most of the final quarter but England had more than enough in the tank to keep plenty in reserve for what promises to be three titanic games across the final four days on the banks of the Mersey.
Also on Day Six in Liverpool…
Jamaica returned to winning ways beating beating Scotland xx-xx but the best they can know hope for is 5th place.
Back-to-back defeats against South Africa and England meant the semi-finals were almost certainly out of reach for the Sunshine Girls – and that fact was confirmed by the Proteas win over Uganda.
Earlier in the day, the first of the placings matches for Friday were confirmed, with Fiji beating Sri Lanka to join Samoa in the Group E top two.
Fiji’s 59-44 win meaning they will now face Samoa, to determine who finishes in 13th spot – a rematch of the competition’s tightest game so far when a one-goal win for Samoa on Monday was only confirmed after a last-second goal for Fiji was disallowed in the final second.
After failing to win a game during the preliminary first phase Samoa made it three wins in succession by hammering Singapore 63-49 meaning that Singapore remain the only team in the competition without a win and face Sri Lanka in the 15th/16th place play-off.
Watch every match of the Vitality Netball World Cup 2019 live on Sky Sports. Coverage of the Netball World Cup continues on Sky Sports Netball right through until the final on Sunday July 21.