New Zealand beat Australia 52-51 to win Vitality Netball World Cup
England finish third after win over South Africa in bronze medal match
By Paul Prenderville, M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool
Last Updated: 22/07/19 11:07am
New Zealand claimed their fifth World Cup title and first since 2003 by stunning 11-time champions Australia to claim the gold medal in Liverpool on Sunday.
A dominant run either side of half-time proved decisive for Kiwis who had to repel a stirring fourth-quarter comeback from the Aussies who threatened to take the game into extra-time.
But the Kiwis kept their cool in a sixth successive Trans-Tasman final in the World Cup final and for only the second time in that run it was the Silver Ferns who triumphed.
Noeline Taurua's team put in another solid defensive performance as they ended a 16-year wait to be crowned world champions.
"Every day was always going to be challenge for us and to come out here and do this in the Grand Final is massive for the Silver Ferns, for netball, for New Zealand and for our general community at home," she told Sky Sports.
"It's amazing and it was a great game as well, it was an epic encounter.
"I've got to go back home, I've got my Lightning contract and I'm looking forward to going back home as well.
"What will be will be after this, I'm absolutely ecstatic.
Australia had beaten the Silver Ferns in the second preliminary group phase on Thursday, also by a single goal but on the biggest stage of all New Zealand had the ultimate revenge.
As well as restablishing them as a force back at the top of the game, Taurua leaned on the experience of some players who had been out in the international wilderness. Laura Langman and Casey Kopua are among the players to have been nicknamed the Fossils and it was they who played their part.
"Our fossils stood up and led from the front. I'm actually quite speechless, I don't know what to say," she added.
"It was a really weird feeling, it was very calm and I wasn't sure what that would relate to. Absolutely proud like always."
With nothing between the teams in the opening quarter and defences on top it fell to the Ferns to eventually overpower the Diamonds in the closing moments of the second 15 minutes.
Defensive pressure forced the turnovers and with Maria Folau finding her range and Ameliaranne Ekenasio striking with the same timely intervention she did against England, a three-goal unanswered run had them 28-25 in front.
That lead became seven in the third quarter as the Kiwis threatened to pull away but with six of the previous 16 World Cup meetings between the teams decided by a single goal the drama was still to come.
On three separate occasions in the final quarter Australia, determined to hold onto their crown, drew back to within one.
But New Zealand stood firm and having slipped to fifth in the world rankings on the eve of the tournament, confounded expectations to leave Liverpool with the World Cup trophy.
Netball is back on your screens in October with the Fast5 All Stars Championship. We will cover all the drama of the off-season as Superleague teams begin to shape their squads for the 2020 season which you can follow on Sky Sports.