HISTORY OF THE NETBALL WORLD CUP2023-07-25T13:43:16+10:00
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  • Avatar photoIan Harkin
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      From Sebastian Luckai

      Avatar photoIan Harkin
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        Avatar photoIan Harkin
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          For the 13th World Championships, netball headed back to Singapore for a second time and it was another memorable tournament. In the playoff for fifth, South Africa and Malawi had another great battle, with the Proteas coming out on top this time 52-50. Then England totally dominated the Jamaicans 70-49 to claim third place.

          But the main attraction was the final and it was another classic. Australia had lost their captain Sharelle McMahon to injury earlier in the year. Centre Nat von Bertouch took over the captaincy, and she had another great duel here with Kiwi rival Laura Langman. New Zealand started strongly and led 26-20 at half time. Irene van Dyk was on top, and at the other end, the Australians were struggling in attack.

          This led Norma Plummer to make changes to the Diamonds, bringing goal shooter Caitlin Bassett and goal keeper Laura Geitz into the game. The changes produced immediate results with the margin reduced to just one at three-quarter time.

          With time running out in the fourth quarter, the Ferns looked headed for victory. They were up by one and had possession. But a steal by player of the match Nat Medhurst saw Australia draw level.

          And so we were off to extra time. Less than a year after the unbelievable commonwealth games final in Delhi, here we were again. At this stage, it seemed almost impossible to separate these two teams.

          In extra time, the play ebbed and flowed until finally it came to Maria Tutaia who had the chance to shoot the winning goal. But her shot rimmed out. Geitz was there to pick up the scraps and send the ball down court. The ball found its way to Bassett at the other end, who calmly shot the winning goal in the final seconds, prompting another huge celebration from the Diamonds.

          It was another incredible finish, and the two players that Plummer had brought on at half time, had played a big hand. Although she didn’t know it at the time, this would be the legendary shooter van Dyk’s fifth and last world cup, having played in two with South Africa and three with New Zealand.


          Avatar photoIan Harkin
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            1st – AUSTRALIA
            BASSETT, Caitlin
            BELL, Erin
            CORLETTO, Julie
            COX, Catherine
            FUHRMANN, Susan
            GEITZ, Laura
            GERRARD, Mo’onia
            GREEN, Kimberlee
            LAYTON, Sharni
            MEDHURST, Natalie
            PITMAN, Chelsea
            VON BERTOUCH, Natalie (Captain)
            Coach: Norma Plummer

            2nd – NEW ZEALAND
            DE BRUIN, Leana
            GEORGE, Temepara
            GRANT, Katrina
            GRIFFIN, Paula
            HENRY, Joline
            LANGMAN, Laura
            LEOTA, Liana
            SCARLETT, Anna
            THOMPSON, Anna
            TUTAIA, Maria
            VAN DYK, Irene
            WILLIAMS, Casey (Captain)
            Coach: Ruth Aitken

            3rd – ENGLAND
            ATKINSON, Karen (Co-captain)
            BECKFORD-CHAMBERS, Eboni
            BROWNFIELD, Louisa
            CLARKE, Jade
            COOKEY, Pamela
            DUNN, Rachel
            FRANCIS, Stacey
            GREENWAY, Tamsin
            GUTHRIE, Serena
            HARTEN, Jo
            MENTOR, Geva
            MKOLOMA, Sonia (Co-captain)
            Coach: Sue Hawkins

            All team lists… https://netballscoop.com/forums/topic/team-lists-2011-world-championships-2/

            Avatar photoIan Harkin
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              4 pools of 4 teams with the top teams then going on to 1/4 finals, semi finals and a final.

              POOL A

              Australia 81 def Samoa 23
              (Bassett 31/31, Cox 23/27, Medhurst 21/25, Bell 6/8)
              (Faasavalu 15/27, Langi 8/15)

              Northern Ireland 65 def Sri Lanka 56
              (Lennon 50/61, McCulloch 12/15, O’Hanlon 3/7)
              (Sivalingam 54/55, Samarasinghe 2/3)

              Samoa 57 def Sri Lanka 53
              (Langi 42/48, Faasavalu 15/20)
              (Sivalingam 50/52, Samarasinghe 3/3)

              Australia 75 def Northern Ireland 33
              (Bassett 31/31, Medhurst 16/17, Bell 16/19, Cox 12/13)
              (Lennon 25/36, Bowman 8/14)

              Northern Ireland 66 def Samoa 37
              (Lennon 47/58, McCulloch 13/18, Bowman 6/8)
              (Faasavalu 16/18, Langi 16/22, Chang 5/6)

              Australia 97 def Sri Lanka 20
              (Bassett 30/30, Cox 27/33, Medhurst 24/24, Bell 16/21)
              (Sivalingam 16/17, Samarasinghe 4/9)

              Pool order:
              1. Australia
              2. Northern Ireland

              3. Samoa
              4. Sri Lanka

              POOL B

              New Zealand 80 def Fiji 25
              (van Dyk 25/26, Thompson 24/28, Griffin 24/29, Tutaia 7/8)
              (Vonolagi 13/18, Rusivakula 11/21, Lutua 1/1)

              Trinidad & Tobago 51 def Wales 48
              (Barker 36/40, Wilson 9/11, Cooper 6/6)
              (Mosely 20/28, James 19/22, Lewis 13/14)

              Trinidad & Tobago 58 def Fiji 40
              (Wilson 31/34, Barker 14/17, Cooper 13/15)
              (Rusivakula 24/32, Vonolagi 16/21)

              New Zealand 91 def Wales 21
              (Griffin 36/40, van Dyk 32/33, Tutaia 14/18, Thompson 9/9)
              (Thomas 8/9, Lewis 8/19, James 5/9, Mosely 0/1)

              Fiji 48 def Wales 38
              (Rusivakula 32/43, Lutua 14/18, Vonolagi 2/3)
              (Lewis 13/19, Mosely 10/14, Thomas 8/8, James 7/12)

              New Zealand 75 def Trinidad & Tobago 23
              (Griffin 22/26, van Dyk 19/20, Tutaia 18/19, Thompson 16/17)
              (Barker 9/10, Wilson 7/12, Cooper 5/8)

              Pool order:
              1. New Zealand
              2. Trinidad & Tobago

              3. Fiji
              4. Wales

              Avatar photoIan Harkin
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                POOL C

                Botswana 43 def Singapore 36
                Shooting stats unknown.

                Jamaica 72 def South Africa 45
                (Aiken 40/49, Fowler 21/24, Griffiths 11/15)
                (Basson 23/26, Bootha 16/22, Holtzhausen 6/11)

                Jamaica 74 def Botswana 23
                (Fowler 32/35, Aiken 29/32, Griffiths 12/12, Ffrench-Kentish 1/2)
                (Moabi 11/16, Gabaratane 6/11, Radipotsane 3/5, Rasekhumba 3/7)

                South Africa 70 def Singapore 33
                (Basson 37/39, Holtzhausen 28/38, Mbewe 5/5)
                (Tett 19/27, Chen 8/14, Li 6/11)

                Jamaica 94 def Singapore 40
                (Fowler 58/62, Aiken 26/28, Ffrench-Kentish 9/11)
                (Soh 13/17, Tett 9/12, Chen 8/13, Li 7/9, Tan 3/5)

                South Africa 57 def Botswana 38
                (Basson 30/35, Bootha 16/20, Holtzhausen 11/13)
                (Moabi 21/22, Rasekhumba 15/23, Radipotsane 2/2)

                Pool order:
                1. Jamaica
                2. South Africa

                3. Botswana
                4. Singapore

                POOL D

                England 65 def Malawi 33
                (Harten 22/24, Brownfield 21/24, Cookey 17/20, Dunn 5/6)
                (M.Kumwenda 26/29, Simtowe 7/11)

                Barbados 62 def Malaysia 40
                (L.Browne 25/28, Bishop 21/22, Piggott 16/20)
                (Izyan Syazana 23/32, Norashikin 12/14, Aruna 5/15)

                England 74 def Barbados 42
                (Dunn 27/32, Harten 22/24, Brownfield 17/18, Cookey 8/9)
                (Bishop 23/33, Piggott 19/21, L.Browne 0/1)

                Malawi 66 def Malaysia 35
                (M.Kumwenda 36/39, Simtowe 19/23, Mvula 10/11, Chiboko 1/1)
                (Izyan Syazana 15/19, Aruna 10/14, Norashikin 7/10, Nur Azzaini 3/5)

                Malawi 73 def Barbados 44
                (M.Kumwenda 48/54, Simtowe 15/18)
                (Bishop 19/20, L.Browne 15/20, Piggott 8/11)

                England 95 def Malaysia 22
                (Dunn 34/39, Brownfield 29/32, Harten 22/24, Cookey 10/11)
                (Norashikin 8/11, Nur Azzaini 6/10, Aruna 6/11, Izyan Syazana 2/2)

                Pool order:
                1. England
                2. Malawi

                3. Barbados
                4. Malaysia

                Avatar photoIan Harkin
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                  QUARTER FINALS

                  England 87 def Northern Ireland 16
                  (Harten 45/53, Cookey 26/29, Brownfield 16/17)
                  (Lennon 10/20, Bowman 3/5, McCulloch 3/9, O’Hanlon 0/1)

                  New Zealand 58 def South Africa 28
                  (Tutaia 20/29, Griffin 16/22, van Dyk 14/15, Thompson 8/10)
                  (Basson 22/28, Holtzhausen 6/10)

                  Australia 58 def Malawi 44
                  (Bassett 21/21, Medhurst 21/24, Cox 16/20)
                  (Simtowe 23/30, M.Kumwenda 21/27)

                  Jamaica 79 def Trinidad & Tobago 42
                  (Fowler 42/43, R.Aiken 19/22, Griffiths 17/19, Ffrench-Kentish 1/2)
                  (Wilson 20/26, Cooper 15/20, Barker 7/9)



                  15/16 Playoff: Singapore 47 def Malaysia 36
                  (Tan 36/42, Chen 7/10, Li 2/4, Soh 2/4)
                  (Norashikin 26/30, Noramirah Dayana 5/7, Nur Azzaini 3/3, Izyan Syazana 2/4)

                  13/14 Playoff: Botswana 59 def Sri Lanka 54
                  (Moabi 27/29, Rasekhumba 25/28, Radipotsane 7/9)
                  (Sivalingam 51/52, ???)

                  11/12 Playoff: Barbados 68 def Samoa 45
                  (L.Browne 39/42, Piggott 26/29, Bishop 3/5)
                  (Langi 31/34, Chang 5/6, To’o 5/6, Faasavalu 4/7)

                  9/10 Playoff: Wales 62 def Fiji 47
                  (Mosely 44/54, James 18/21)
                  (Rusivakula 35/48, Vonolagi 8/12, Lutua 4/7)

                  7/8 Playoff: Trinidad & Tobago 56 def Northern Ireland 38
                  (Wilson 45/48, Cooper 5/7, Barker 5/7, Richardson 1/3)
                  (Lennon 21/32, Bowman 8/17, McCulloch 7/14, O’Hanlon 2/8)

                  5/6 Playoff: South Africa 52 def Malawi 50
                  (Basson 29/34, Bootha 22/35, Holtzhausen 1/1)
                  (M.Kumwenda 41/41, Simtowe 9/10)


                  SEMI FINAL 1
                  NEW ZEALAND: 49 (Tutaia 26/38, van Dyk 23/25)
                  ENGLAND: 34 (Harten 13/14, Cookey 13/15, Brownfield 8/14)
                  (13-11, 23-18, 39-26, 49-34)

                  Starting lineups:
                  NEW ZEALAND: GS van Dyk, GA Tutaia, WA George, C Langman, WD Scarlett, GD Williams, GK Grant
                  ENGLAND: GS Harten, GA Cookey, WA Greenway, C Atkinson, WD Clarke, GD Mkoloma, GK Mentor


                  SEMI FINAL 2
                  AUSTRALIA: 82 (Cox 39/47, Medhurst 28/30, Bassett 11/11, Bell 4/4)
                  JAMAICA: 46 (Fowler 37/43, R.Aiken 7/9, Griffiths 2/2)
                  (18-13, 37-23, 63-32, 82-46)

                  Starting lineups:
                  AUSTRALIA: GS Cox, GA Medhurst, WA Green, C von Bertouch, WD Gerrard, GD Corletto, GK Fuhrmann
                  JAMAICA: GS Fowler, GA R.Aiken, WA Bryan, C Thompson, WD Henry, GD Kelly, GK N.Aiken-Pinnock


                  3/4 PLAYOFF
                  ENGLAND: 70 (Harten 51/61, Cookey 19/28)
                  JAMAICA: 49 (R.Aiken 23/27, Fowler 16/22, Griffiths 10/13)
                  (18-12, 34-26, 52-36, 70-49)

                  Starting lineups:
                  ENGLAND: GS Harten, GA Cookey, WA Greenway, C Atkinson, WD Clarke, GD Mkoloma, GK Mentor
                  JAMAICA: GS R.Aiken, GA Griffiths, WA Bryan, C Thompson, WD Henry, GD Sherwood, GK N.Aiken-Pinnock

                  Avatar photoIan Harkin
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                    FINAL – AUSTRALIA v NEW ZEALAND

                    AUSTRALIA WON 58-57 (extra time)
                    (10-12, 20-26, 35-36, 46-46 / 58-57)

                    GS Cox
                    GA Medhurst
                    WA Green
                    C von Bertouch
                    WD Gerrard
                    GD Corletto
                    GK Fuhrmann

                    2nd Quarter.. Pitman WA (Green).
                    3rd Quarter.. Bassett GS (Cox), Geitz GK (Fuhrmann).

                    Shooting stats:
                    Bassett 27/30 (90%)
                    Medhurst 19/23 (83%)
                    Cox 12/16 (75%)
                    TOTAL 58/69 (84%)

                    NEW ZEALAND:
                    GS van Dyk
                    GA Tutaia
                    WA George
                    C Langman
                    WD Henry
                    GD Williams
                    GK de Bruin

                    Extra Time… Scarlett GK (de Bruin).

                    Shooting stats:
                    van Dyk 34/35 (97%)
                    Tutaia 23/33 (70%)
                    TOTAL 57/68 (84%)

                    Player of the match: Natalie Medhurst
                    Tournament MVP: Erin Burger (South Africa)
                    Umpires: Gary Burgess and Dalton Hinds

                    Crowd 7512


                    FINAL PLACINGS:

                    1. AUSTRALIA
                    2. New Zealand
                    3. England

                    4. Jamaica
                    5. South Africa
                    6. Malawi
                    7. Trinidad Tobago
                    8. Northern Ireland
                    9. Wales
                    10. Fiji
                    11. Barbados
                    12. Western Samoa
                    13. Botswana
                    14. Sri Lanka
                    15. Singapore
                    16. Malaysia

                    Avatar photoIan Harkin
                      Post count: 22866

                      Rookie goal crushes Ferns
                      Linda Pearce

                      CAITLIN Bassett realised that the goal she missed at the end of regular time in the latest dramatic instalment of the Australia-New Zealand rivalry would have clinched the Diamonds’ 10th world championship; what the young goaler did not know, happily, was that her final shot at the end of overtime would win the title.

                      ”I thought it was just to equalise the game, so to find out it was the game-winning goal, oh my god. I’m glad I didn’t know that,” Bassett said later. ”I was really devastated after I missed that first one. I’m going to go home and practise my shooting every single second of every day. I’m so glad I got a second chance to take that shot again. I knew I had to really focus and steady.”

                      It was, in many ways, a reprise of last year’s epic Commonwealth Games gold medal game won in double extra-time by New Zealand, except that it was Australia’s revenge, and incredibly sweet. The Silver Ferns led by six goals at half-time before coach Norma Plummer introduced Bassett and goal keeper Laura Geitz in a necessary pair of moves that changed the game. Teams that were locked at 46-46 after 60 minutes were finally split after a further 14.

                      Kiwi goal attack Maria Tutaia had nailed the winning goal in Delhi, but last night at the Singapore Indoor Stadium fluffed the attempt in the final minute that would have sealed back-to-back victories. Australia then swept the ball down court to Bassett, the gangly 23-year-old playing just her 11th Test. Game over. Title safely defended. Jubilation. Tears. Vindication.

                      ”It was from devastation to elation,” said Plummer after what may have been her last international game, the dual championship-winning coach having accepted the position with West Coast Fever in the ANZ Championship. ”This one we had a lot of younger players, you’ve got all of the new ones in there, first world championships, some of them getting their first caps. The exuberance, it’s just the sensational feeling within the team that some of these young ones brought.

                      ”I said to them today, ‘for the older players you’ve brought back what it’s all about’, because they’re all so excited about every single thing. The new ones coming in they bring back the freshness, and I think that’s just added such a bonus to us, they just wanted it so much for one another.”

                      Plummer predicted a bright future for the revamped team, which had lost captain Sharelle McMahon in the months leading up to a tournament that New Zealand had entered as favourite. ”The squad won’t change, even if I’m not leading it, until after another selection,” she said. ”But I don’t think they’ll be throwing away the baby with the bathwater; there’s some great talent in that group now.”

                      Player-of-the-match Natalie Medhurst was one of just five players left from the 2007 champion team, and paid tribute to her young shooting partner. ”I’m so proud of Caitlin. She almost nearly got it for us in full-time and just missed the goal, and to go into overtime and to score that crucial goal – it’s just absolutely unbelievable.”

                      Avatar photoIan Harkin
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                        Diamonds are on top of the world
                        Linda Pearce

                        SO EMOTIONALLY devastated was Australian captain Natalie von Bertouch by Australia’s epic loss to New Zealand in October’s Commonwealth Games final that she sought a meeting with Norma Plummer many months later to discuss her lingering torment. Last night, in the world championship final, von Bertouch led Australia to one of its great victories, 58-57 in the last seconds of overtime. “Oh my God, it was a heartstopper of a game, and it makes it that much sweeter after Delhi last year to come out and win in extra time again,” von Bertouch said. “There is absolutely nothing splitting our two teams, so [it was] absolutely magnificent.”

                        Indeed, for much of the match it had seemed that, for the first time in its rich netball history, Australia would be left without one of the sport’s two major titles. Even in the last minute of overtime, Silver Fern Maria Tutaia had a mid-range shot that would have sealed her team’s victory and it was left to world championships debutante Caitlin Bassett to coolly slot the decider at the other end.

                        It was yet another classic chapter in a storied rivalry in which 39 of the 103 matches played have now been decided by five goals or less. The Diamonds are now unbeaten in world championship play since their finals loss to New Zealand in Jamaica in 2003, and have won or shared 10 of the 13 titles decided.

                        Earlier, Bassett, whose half-time substitution had helped ignite the Diamonds’ recovery from a six-goal deficit, had missed a shot in the dying seconds of regular time that would have won the final for Australia, leaving the scores locked at 46-46. “We just kept fighting back,” von Bertouch said. “They kept pulling away and pulling away and we kept fighting back and it came down to who was up when the whistle blew and luckily enough that was us.”

                        New Zealand had started better, scoring five of the first seven goals. Despite drawing level just before quartertime, two goals in the last minute to Irene van Dyk gave the Ferns a 12-10 lead at the opening change. The Australians’ difficulty penetrating the circle prompted the introduction of Chelsea Pitman for Kim Green at wing attack in what was just the Queensland Firebird’s seventh Test.

                        Still, the Ferns scored the first three goals of the second term to push their lead to five, as a lack of flow in the Diamonds’ attack made scoring difficult. And, at the other end, the 39-year-old marvel who is van Dyk kept calmly slotting shot after shot – 17 without a miss to half-time, when NewZealand led 26-20.

                        Changes were needed, and they came in the form of Bassett replacing Cath Cox, and Laura Geitz summoned to try to curb van Dyk. Plummer had been confident all week that her bench could make the difference and, indeed, the impact was immediate, with the Diamonds launching a run of seven consecutive goals in five minutes to draw level.

                        Bassett, who had missed just one goal in five matches in Singapore, had two chances to put Australia in front, but could not, yet when player-of-the-match Nat Medhurst did the honours almost seven minutes before three-quarter time the defending champion’s momentum seemed irresistible.

                        Still, as ever, there were more twists to come. New Zealand led again by three early in the last term, only for a Geitz interception to help Australia pinch the lead back again with just under four minutes left.“We needed a change and a few of them needed to man up, and that was the message that went out [at half-time], and I think our changes helped us enormously,” Plummer said. “Your heart’s always in your mouth, but you’ve got to have faith in them and that’s what we did have.”

                        Avatar photoIan Harkin
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                          Third quarter costs Silver Ferns in decider
                          Cathy Walshe, NZPA

                          A lapse in adjustment to an Australian third-quarter change ultimately cost the Silver Ferns the title as they succumbed 57-58 in extra time at the world netball championship final in Singapore yesterday. Ahead 12-10 after 15 minutes, the New Zealanders battled to a gritty 26-20 halftime lead before the wheels fell off when the third quarter started.

                          The long limbs of Australian goal keep Susan Fuhrmann were replaced by the more mobile and intuitive defence of Laura Geitz, while rangy young Caitlin Bassett came on for veteran Diamonds shooter Cath Cox at the other end of the court. Those changes – and the injection of wing attack Chelsea Pitman for Kim Green at the end of the first quarter – galvanised the Australians, who took out the third 15-minute spell 15-10 and only trailed 36-35 going into the last quarter.

                          New Zealand coach Ruth Aitken afterwards pinpointed that third stanza as pivotal, although she did admit that both teams had had the winning of the game at certain times. “There were a lot of little things, but I certainly think that when they made the adjustment with Bassett in the third quarter, while we had talked about that potential change, I think it did make a difference to them,” Aitken told NZPA afterwards. “That run they got to get back in from six or seven goals down was what set it up for a real tough finish. The time when we needed to have really asserted our dominance, perhaps we didn’t do that as much as we could have.”

                          Aitken stuck to her opening line-up for the entire 60 minutes, making her sole change of the game at the beginning of extra time after the scores were level 46-46 at full time. Anna Scarlett replaced Leana de Bruin at goal keep, after the long-limbed South African-born defender had run herself to a standstill in working to contain first Cox, then Bassett.

                          But it was the huge pressure on New Zealand’s shooters that eventually took its toll in extra time. Evergreen Irene van Dyk, 39, worked tirelessly in combatting first the intimidating height and reach of Susan Fuhrmann then the up close and personal attentions of Laura Geitz, while Maria Tutaia had to contend with the outstanding Julie Corletto, who had one of her best games yet in green and gold. “There was huge pressure on our shooting circle,” Aitken said. “The defensive pressure Australia put us under was massive, and they probably had the edge of us in that statistic. But in the end it’s the whole seven, the whole team who take collective responsibility.”

                          The win provided no small degree of consolation for the Diamonds, who last year lost their second successive Commonwealth Games title to New Zealand with a double extra time 66-64 win in the gold medal match. The closeness of both matches reflects the intensity of any match involving the long-standing trans-Tasman rivals, Aitken said. “We’re feeling a bit battered and bruised, as you can imagine, but it was an amazing spectacle, and both teams had the winning of it at certain stages. That’s the thing. It’s incredibly close between the two teams, but we just didn’t get to be on the right side of the ledger at the right time.”

                          Aitken had given all her 12-strong squad a good run in pool play and sudden-death matches over the week-long tournament, assessing form, strengths and weaknesses, but when it came to the crunch she settled for sticking with almost all her entire starting line-up for the draining 75-minute game. “We felt the players were working really hard out there and we felt they had the experience to do it, but it just didn’t happen today,” Aitken said. “It was seven players, or eight counting Anna, who gave it their absolute all so in the end I was proud of the effort and work rate out there.”

                          Avatar photoIan Harkin
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                            Heartbreak at death for Silver Ferns
                            Dana Johannsen

                            After 74 minutes of torrid netball, the Silver Ferns’ quest to secure back-to-back golds at consecutive major tournaments fell at the final hurdle, with Australia defending their world title in an extra-time thriller. Leading 46-45 heading into the final minute and with the centre pass, all New Zealand had to do was hold on to the ball to claim the win.

                            But a Natalie Medhurst steal off what was an ordinary piece of attacking allowed Australia to level the score. They could have claimed the win from the following centre pass if weren’t for a wobbly shot at goal from Caitlin Bassett. And so, at 46-all, the two superpowers battled into extra time once more.

                            The score was still level after the first period of seven minutes. And again heading into the final minute it was still even stevens. But a missed long shot from Maria Tutaia – hero of last year’s Commonwealth Games victory – was rebounded by defender Laura Geitz and swiftly moved down court. This time, Bassett did not miss, and the Ferns’ dreams of “G2” – gold No 2 – were crushed.

                            Reality didn’t appear to set into the Ferns camp until the post-match presentations. As Irene van Dyk climbed onto the runners-up podium, she began to sob uncontrollably. Soon, many of her Silver Ferns team-mates began to chime in. Van Dyk’s open display of emotion was perhaps the strongest indicator yet that last night’s extraordinary final may be her last in the black dress.

                            The emotion of the occasion also got the better of captain Casey Williams, who broke down in tears in the post-match interviews as she paid tribute to her team-mates. “I am pretty emotional – as you can see right now there are tears in my eyes,” she said “The girls gave it all out there. I’m so proud. [The loss] doesn’t take away from any of the hard work that we’ve done over the last four years.”

                            But Australia’s fighting qualities were better on this occasion. They trailed by six goals at halftime before a good old-fashioned rark-up from no-nonsense coach Norma Plummer set them back on the right track, coming back out of the break fired up on defence. For Australia, there was more than a world title on the line in Singapore – they were out for Delhi redemption.

                            It was evident in the jubilation from the players after the match that that pain had been put to rest. All the numbers pointed to a tight tussle last night. Twenty-one of the past 23 meetings between the sides have been decided by seven goals or fewer. So evenly matched are these two sides that there are no longer any favourites. When trying to pick a winner, all you can really go on is the vibe each side are putting out.

                            Until Saturday night’s semifinals, it looked as though New Zealand were in the better groove, cruising through their three pool games before a more competitive hit-out against South Africa in the quarter-final. But they had a very tough semifinal encounter against England, while Australia had an unexpectedly comfortable semifinal win, beating Jamaica 82-46 to set up a fourth consecutive trans-tasman final.

                            New Zealand enjoyed all the early running in last night’s match, taking a 12-10 lead at the first break and extending that advantage out to five early on in the second spell. But there were nervous moments when, just before halftime, Williams called a time-out to receive treatment on her calf, which was heavily strapped. The captain, who played the 2006 Commonwealth Games final with an ankle fracture, battled on but looked uncomfortable.

                            A piece of Tutaia magic in the final seconds of the half gave the Ferns a healthy 26-20 lead at halftime. But having worked so hard to amass that lead, the Silver Ferns were reduced to mere spectators early in the third period as Australia clawed the goals back one by one. Plummer made changes at both end of the court, introducing Bassett for Catherine Cox at goal shoot and injecting Geitz at goal keep in place of Susan Fuhrmann.

                            The changes, as well as a noticeable step up in defensive intensity, helped Australia to level it at 27-all five minutes in, before taking the lead a couple of possessions later. New Zealand just managed to get their noses back in front heading into the final turn, taking a 36-35 lead to set up a tense final 15 minutes.

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