Cumbria’s Fiona Crackles helped team England make history as they outclassed Australia to win the country’s first Commonwealth hockey gold.

It was a masterful performance gilded by first-half strikes from Holly Hunt and Tess Howard that secured 2-1 victory.

England had stood on the podium in all six Commonwealth tournaments but had never made the top step.

Captain Hollie Pearne-Webb said: “I’m absolutely thrilled. We knew we had the potential to do it as a squad.

“We’ve not been together too long but we’ve been building and learning our identity. This has never been achieved by an England hockey team before, so it’s just so special.

“I’m so fortunate that these Games have fallen within my career and my lifetime.”

Neither side dominated in a nervy first quarter where Australia flashed the ball across goal and England failed to capitalise on a string of penalty corners.

The Westmorland Gazette: Fiona weaving with the ballFiona weaving with the ball

Flora Peel threatened with early raids into enemy territory, and she burst down the right to feed Hunt, who trapped the ball perfectly and cracked her shot past Aleisha Power into the goal.

England doubled the lead four minutes later with Peel again playing provider for Howard to deftly deflect into the roof of the net.

The women will have been wary of the two-goal lead that their male counterparts let slip in their own semi-final against Australia.

But there was no visible sign of stress in the England ranks and they sought to build on the advantage with Anna Toman’s penalty corner smacking the inside of the right-hand post.

Maddie Hinch, a spectator for the first 45 minutes, was first called into action seconds into the fourth quarter when she kick-saved Jane Claxton’s close-range snapshot.

White-line fever began to creep in but as always Hinch kept a cool head, saving first at the near post and then smothering a well-worked Australian penalty corner.

Australia struck in the last minute as Rosie Malone swept home the loose ball from a corner, just the second goal England conceded in the entire tournament, but it was far too little, too late.

The Westmorland Gazette: Fiona Crackles in England's final against AustraliaFiona Crackles in England's final against Australia

Lily Owsley said: “I never for a second in that game thought we weren’t going to win it. We had a lot of control.

“We said you’ve got to take the first swing and keep swinging. We did that and got ourselves over the line. It was a dominant performance.”

David Ralph’s squad received a video message from Lioness’ skipper Leah Williamson on the morning of the game and hours later gave English sport its second super Sunday in a row.

“We saw what the Lionesses did last week and they were hugely inspirational for us,” said Pearne-Webb.

“To be part of the women's team sport movement is an absolute privilege. I’m so happy that we could be part of it.”

And Fiona Crackles' home town of Kirkby Lonsdale was behind her all the way, including patrons of The Highwayman.

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