Sport Netball New Zealand ends dry spell by beating old-enemy Australia in Netball World Cup thriller
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New Zealand ends dry spell by beating old-enemy Australia in Netball World Cup thriller

Laura Langman of New Zealand celebrates after the Netball World Cup Final match in Liverpool. Photo: Getty
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Only one point separated the Australians and Kiwis in a thrilling Netball World Cup final that has ended the Diamonds’ dominance.

The Silver Ferns quashed an Aussie comeback, leaving the Diamonds dejected in a nail-biting 52-51 finish.

The Silver Ferns had been six goals in front midway through the third quarter and had to withstand a spirited fightback from their opponents in the final quarter.

The Aussies closed the gap to 50-52 going into the final two minutes but the New Zealanders held their nerve to beat the old enemy by a single point, ending Australia’s long-standing dominance of the Netball World Cup.

Australia and New Zealand went head-to-head in their sixth world cup final in a row over the past 20 years.

The Silver Ferns managed to end a 16-year dry spell after lifting the trophy for the first time since 2003.

The Diamonds had hoped to secure their fourth successive crown after winning the last three world titles among a haul of 11 since the first tournament in 1963.

Stephanie Wood, Liz Watson, Jo Weston and Kelsey Browne of Australia look dejected after the match. Photo: Getty

The scores were locked at 10-all after the opening quarter, but the Silver Ferns got their noses firmly in front with two unanswered goals from Maria Folau on the stroke of halftime to open up a 28-25 lead.

With New Zealand captain Laura Langman dictating proceedings at the centre of the court, Australia lacked the fluency in attack that they showed against South Africa in Saturday’s semi-final.

Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander brought on Gretal Tippett at halftime, but it failed to halt the charge of the Silver Ferns, who opened up a seven-point lead midway through the third stanza.

Trailing by four at the start of the final quarter, the Diamonds started strongly with three quickfire scores to reduce the lead.

But New Zealand kept their noses in front with Folau (25 from 35) and Ameliaranne Ekenasio (24 from 26) holding their nerves inside the semi-circle with clutch finishes.

With less than a minute remaining a Bassett (35 from 40) goal cut the deficit to a point but it was too little too late as Australia failed to turn the ball over and regain possession as the clock ran down.

“It’s obviously not the result we wanted today,” Bassett said.

“It was such a close finish and I don’t think you could have asked for any more from any of the girls in our team.

“It’s one goal. It’s always going to be tight against New Zealand. It is what it is.”

-with AAP