Tracey Neville warned her Roses to “smarten up” despite their 72-46 win over Trinidad and Tobago sending them into the World Cup semi-finals.

The England coach said she knew her squad would “come out flat” having had a day’s break ahead of needing to beat a struggling T&T for a spot in the final four.

The Caribbean side had looked unlikely to make much of a showing, having lost their last match to a Uganda side England smashed 64-32 in their opening game. But England’s attack looked dispirited for much of the first half — a situation not helped by that fact that shooter Rachel Dunn left the court clutching her hand in the second quarter.

Cue the introduction of crowd favourite Helen Housby, who responded to the crowd’s raucous applause by injecting her loping energy into England’s attack.

 
Housby had started the match on the bench but made a telling contribution

The Commonwealth Games golden girl propelled the Roses, who had been just four goals up with seven minutes left, to a 16-goal lead at half-time.

Neville said: “I actually thought we started well. It was the second quarter that we let them back in. You can’t put your team under pressure like that. We smartened up, got back into the game and won every quarter.

“Today was about sharing the load. I’m glad we came out with 70-odd goals and although the performance wasn’t as clinical as we wanted, I didn’t expect that today. There are lot of things we want to smarten up.”

Trinidad and Tobago had been something of an unknown quantity. England had not played them since the 1995 World Cup, when they thrashed them 60-35.

 
Neville admits she expected an iffy performance — and says England must improve

But their performances at Liverpool M&S Bank Arena were there for all to see, hammered 76-45 by South Africa and losing 68-43 to Jamaica, with a 67-56 win against Fiji the one positive note.

When England were on form they were rampant and the Caribbean side could find no reply to that scoring streak, even though the Harten-Housby combo in the circle was the only recognisable positioning from the Roses starting line-up.

Housby said: “It’s a different thing, coming off the bench, but I did want to make an impact and I loved it out there. My combination with Jo [Harten] is getting really strong now and it’s nice to know where she’s going to be.

 
Natalie Panagarry are into the final four as they aim to follow up gold at last year's Commonwealth Games

"She’s a little bit unorthodox but I love playing with her. She’s so athletic and dynamic and it keeps defenders guessing.”

Dunn returned to the fray in the fourth quarter and found the Roses renewed.

She said: “I got hit on the elbow, an innocuous knock and half my hand went numb but it’s fine now. We did lose some of our basics, we needed to retain the ball more, get it in more and score more goals. We just didn’t adapt to some of the things they were doing but when we did, we pulled away and we ended up with a good result.

“It’s important to get this sort of pressure because they’re not an easy team and they brought it to us. We’re going into the business end of the competition now and this is what we want, to be able to respond and push on.”