Reply To: HISTORY OF THE NETBALL WORLD CUP2020-04-06T21:48:37+10:00
Avatar photoIan Harkin
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    Kiwis stand tall to bring Australia’s 12-year run to an end
    The Age

    Australia’s netball team is headed for a revamp after New Zealand ended its 12-year reign with a 49-47 victory in the world championship yesterday. And high on the priority list for expected new coach Norma Plummer may be finding defenders tall enough to deal with 190-centimetre Silver Ferns ace Irene van Dyk, who hammered Australia with 41 goals from 43 attempts.

    New Zealand showed the balance of netball power had finally tilted across the Tasman after a string of close calls in recent major finals. Retiring coach Jill McIntosh had no qualms in admitting the better team won with her side having to play catch-up for most of the match after losing an early 8-3 lead. Superbly fed by a slicker midcourt, former South African player van Dyk was unstoppable with her exceptional height and reach. Put simply, van Dyk allowed NZ to shoot at a 92 per cent success rate, while Australia battled with 78 per cent despite a 24 from 28 effort by Sharelle McMahon.

    McIntosh even substituted captain Kathryn Harby-Williams in her 95th and final Test with the taller Janine Ilitch in a late bid to counter van Dyk. She later admitted Australia’s vaunted senior defenders, Harby-Williams and vice-captain Liz Ellis – at 179 centimetres and 183 cm respectively – had their work cut out against the giant shooters emerging on the world scene. “We didn’t have enough height in our back line,” McIntosh said. “I am sure it’s something the new coach will look at. We need a little more height to counter the tall shooter we’re coming up against.”

    Up by margins of four, five and three points at the three breaks, NZ held on despite being narrowly outscored in each of the last two quarters. The final continued the tradition of recent cliff-hanger clashes between the two rivals. It was the 34th time in their 68 battles that fewer than five goals separated the two teams. It is the end of a long and highly successful era for Australia, with NZ claiming its first world crown since 1987.

    Harby-Williams, 34, and midcourters Nicole Richardson and Rebecca Sanders, both 33, are all retiring from international netball, along with McIntosh. It was McIntosh’s first loss in a major final as Australian coach after winning world titles in 1995 and 1999 and Commonwealth Games gold medals in 1998 and 2002. It was NZ’s third world title and ended Australia’s streak of three straight wins among its record eight championships.

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