Vitality Netball World Cup final: Australia and New Zealand to show a rivalry like no other
Watch the Aussie Diamonds and Silver Ferns clash in the Vitality Netball World Cup final on Sunday at 4pm on Sky Sports Netball, Sky One and on our YouTube stream
By Emma Thurston
Last Updated: 20/07/19 7:01pm
Australia taking on New Zealand, New Zealand taking on Australia. Whichever way around you put it, the Trans-Tasman sporting rivalry packs a punch and in the world of netball it falls into the heavyweight division.
For years these two nations were responsible for driving the sport forwards, taking it on their shoulders to lead the way at the domestic level and, as a result, setting a bar that few others have been able to match on the international stage.
Since the Netball World Cup moved away from a round-robin format in 1991, all but one of the competition's finals have been Trans-Tasman matches, and on Sunday afternoon one more contest will be added to that collection.
From the Tests back in the 1970s to the more recent Netball World Cup finals, a single-goal margin of victory has almost become the norm.
The group match between the two teams on Thursday, a 50-49 victory for Australia, also fell into that category. Matches between the two are so often decided on individual moments, be that errors or triumphs and they mean more than anything.
"For me, I think that there's something really special about Australia playing against New Zealand," Aussie Diamonds' captain Caitlin Basset told Sky Sports at the M&S Bank Arena.
"You can look back over the decades and see the amazing contests that happened out there over there between the black dresses and the Green and Gold. It always gives you that little bit of something extra when you're out there against them."
Trans-Tasman Netball World Cup Finals
|1991||Australia 53-52 New Zealand|
|1999||Australia 42-21 New Zealand|
|2003||New Zealand 49-47 Australia|
|2007||Australia 42-38 New Zealand|
|2011||Australia 58-57 New Zealand|
|2015||Australia 58-55 New Zealand|
Norma Plummer, the former Australia Diamonds head coach, once said 'Australia versus New Zealand in netball surpasses everything else in sport between the countries,'. Other sports' current and former head coaches may have something to say about that, but that is a debate to be had on another day.
In Liverpool, both sides have efficiently gone about their business - group stage victories were followed by testing semi-finals and semi-finals that will see them both arrive at the final battle-hardened and chomping at the bit to attack each other again.
Arguably the accolade for the most impressive last-four performance goes to the Silver Ferns after their 47-45 win over England.
Maria Folau was named the player of the match while her shooting partner Ameliaranne Ekenasio missed just one goal throughout (25 from 26).
Together Folau and Ekenasio sparked the attack while their defensive leaders dominated and intimated with Casey Kopua and Jane Watson excelling. The performance, from start to finish, sent real message of intent to the Diamonds.
"The belief was there. The discipline was there and it was all about keeping to our discipline and processes," Folau noted post-match.
"When players needed to stand up, all seven stood up and that I'm very, very proud of. [Noeline Taurua] made a good point of not getting caught chasing and sticking to the game plan. I thought that the team did that very, very well."
The Diamonds' semi-final performance didn't impress in the same way but did what it needed to. It reinforced their considerable depth and will have given them a bit of bristle going into Sunday's final.
Head coach Alexander, and her players, didn't like the inference that maybe they weren't taking South Africa strongly with their much-changed line-up and such emotion will push them going into another tumultuous Trans-Tasman clash.
When it comes down it, the clash that's arriving on Sunday afternoon will be a totally different ball game. Why? Well not only is it about tackling the magnitude and intensity of feeling between the two nations, but there's a Netball World Cup title on the line.
Added to the years of growing up and knowing that beating the country that's your neighbour is the be-all and end-all, beating them to deny them a title tops the lot.
This Sunday's Test match will be about dominating in the pressure-cooker of a final, showing that you are stronger than you know and that you can manage your own psychology in order to deliver onto court.
The Silver Ferns have lost six of their last seven matches against the Diamonds but the feeling remains that Taurua's masterful expertise and the form of her players is creating something special.
Taurua may have only been in the role since August last year but the difference she has made has been vast. New Zealand's 'Fossils' have been driving them on and their structures are clear and firing,
The Diamonds have potent weapons of their own though, look no further than captain Caitlin Bassett, the dynamic Courtney Bruce and Kelsey Browne.
As these two netballing heavyweights prepare to take to the court once again, they are both filled with purpose and have their eyes fixed on the ultimate World Cup prize.
Any knocks that they will be carrying from their semi-finals will be forgotten and if you thought that their single-goal contest on Thursday was outstanding, you've seen nothing yet because a Trans-Tasman World Cup final is in a different stratosphere altogether.
Coverage of the Netball World Cup final will be live on Sky Sports Netball from 4pm on Sunday, while Sky One and Sky Sports YouTube channel will also broadcast the game.