New Zealand end Australia's 12 years of dominance with thrilling Netball World Cup final win

Mark Staniforth

New Zealand held off an Australian fightback to win their first Netball World Cup since 2003 with a dramatic 52-51 triumph in Liverpool.

The Silver Ferns' success completed a recent revival after they had failed to medal for the first time at last year's Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

Leading by six points midway through the penultimate quarter, the underdogs saw their lead begin to dwindle and a pair of late interceptions from Casey Kopua proved crucial in protecting their lead.

Their win, which was greeted by a court invasion from substitutes and team staff, brought immediate retribution for the single-goal defeat they had suffered to the same team in the group stages on Thursday.

And it gave them their first world title since their win over the Australians in Kingston, Jamaica in 2003 - since when their opponents had turned the tables with three consecutive crowns.

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New Zealand coach Noeline Taurua said: "Our country and our clubs all had to be on board to pull the best out and strengthen our competition and it was case of method to madness.

"It's been a long process and we've come through different stages and I'm so happy that it's come to this end and we've been able to lift the cup up."

Despite their traditional dominance Australia had headed into the tournament with questions to answer after the hurt of losing a home Commonwealth Games final to England last year.

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And those questions increased after a baffling semi-final selection decision by coach Lisa Alexander, who benched her star players and watched South Africa come within two goals of pulling off a momentous shock.

Big names including captain Caitin Bassett were back for the final but New Zealand matched them through an even opening quarter then edged in front by the half-time interval.

Maria Folau led the scoring charts for the Silver Ferns but it was the uncanny accuracy of team-mate Amelianne Ekensasio that began to make the difference as her team started to turn on the style.

Kopua's brilliance stifled the inevitable Australian comeback and the Silver Ferns were able to hold onto the ball and count down the final seconds amid a fittingly raucous atmosphere in Liverpool.