Australia end England women's run

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Jodie Fields & Sarah Coyte

Sarah Coyte, right, celebrates one of her two early wickets as England women slip to 26 for four despite winning the toss at Lord's

Australia women inflicted a first defeat of the summer on England while landing a psychological blow ahead of the NatWest Quadrangular Series final with a seven-wicket victory at Lord's.

After being bowled out for just 168, England were incapable of defending their below-par total against Australia's batsman who cantered home with 15 overs to spare.

Shelley Nitschke and the more flamboyant Alex Blackwell cracked contrasting half-centuries and their 94-run stand for the third wicket ultimately sealed England's fate.

But it was Meg Lanning's dazzling cameo at the top of the order which set the platform for her side's victory.

The 19-year-old hit a one-day century when these two sides met at Perth last winter and she seemed set for another landmark score having raced to 43 from just 32 balls.

She fell, however, chasing her tenth boundary, caught by Arran Brindle off Holly Colvin's bowling - one of only three successes for the home side.

Earlier in the day, England, oozing confidence from winning their previous six matches, soon found themselves 26 for four after Charlotte Edwards won the toss and elected to bat first.

The captain was the first to fall, caught at midwicket off a leading edge, followed in the next over by Laura Marsh who, on her 50th ODI appearance, aimed an airy drive straight to Blackwell at cover.

The feisty Danielle Wyatt was the next to go before England lost their fourth wicket for just eight runs when Sarah Coyte breached Claire Taylor's defence with a beauty.

Lydia Greenway, fast becoming the batsman for a crisis, slowly began to rebuild with Sarah Taylor, taking England past 50, until the latter played around a swinging delivery from Jessica Cameron and was adjudged lbw.

Jodie Fields & Holly Colvin

Holly Colvin hits out on the way to 29 down the order, which helped England recover to post a total of 168 against Australia

New batsman Brindle unfurled some glorious drives in making 22 but England's slim hopes of a substantial total faded when she spanked a full toss from Nitschke straight to Cameron on the midwicket boundary.

Greenway, who top scored with 34, departed in lame fashion to leave England 106 for seven - her reverse sweep off Lisa Sthalekar arrowed at Nitschke who made no mistake.

Colvin, in making 29 from 53 balls, demonstrated the sort of application not shown by her more illustrious team-mates and with Danielle Hazell, who hit two boundaries, constructed a 34-run stand which added some much-needed respectability to the total.

England will need to pick themselves up and improve in all disciplines before Thursday's final against the same opposition at Wormsley.

Skipper Edwards said: "It was a disappointing performance today. We didn’t get the runs on the board.

"We knew we would have to take early wickets to give ourselves any chance of defending 168, especially at Lord’s.

"It wasn’t to be today but we’ll put this down to a bad day at the office and move on. We have another chance against Australia at Wormsley and will take all our positives from previous performances in the series into the final on Thursday."

In the day's other game, New Zealand warmed up for their third-place play-off against India with a 39-run win at Southgate.

Batting first, the Black Caps were indebted to Lucy Doolan's patient 72 in their 201 for eight. Despite making a promising start, India finished their innings on 162 for nine.