Australia To Face NZ In Netball World Cup Final
It will be a trans-Tasman Netball World Cup final, after Australia and New Zealand both emerged victorious from two thrilling semi-finals.
Australia beat South Africa 55-53 to stay on course for a 12th crown from 15 editions of the tournament since 1963.
Later at Liverpool's M&S Bank Arena New Zealand crushed hosts England's hopes to claim a 47-45 victory.
Commonwealth champions England began badly, going 5-0 down, and despite deafening home support helping them into a narrow halfway lead, the Silver Ferns were more clinical.
"I can't put into words what just happened," New Zealand attacker Maria Folau, a constant thorn in England's side, said.
"The discipline was there and it was all about keeping to our structure and processes. When players needed to stand up, all seven stood up. We didn't get caught chasing."
It was a bitter disappointment for England coach Tracey Neville, whose brother Phil recently suffered a similar fate as coach of the England's women soccer team that lost in the World Cup semi-final to the United States.
"I think New Zealand came out really strong and we didn't learn our lessons quick enough and we ended up chasing the game which we have not done all tournament," a deflated Neville said.
"But that was a class performance by New Zealand. We made some basic errors. They did a great job on us."
Victory did not come easily for top-ranked Australia who surged to an eight-goal lead at halftime but had to stave off a determined comeback by the Proteas in the last two quarters.
"It's amazing. It wasn't pretty but a win is a win. We go again and we're so excited," Australia's Liz Watson, named player of the match, said.
"I think it came down to heart and passion. We kept getting back into it... we are so pumped. We'll go and watch the game later. Whoever we play will be a great match."
Caitlin Thwaites was outstanding for the Diamonds against the Proteas after being preferred to skipper Caitlin Bassett and the experienced goal shooter believes the team's in perfect shape to go all the way.
"I think we've gained a lot of confidence," said Thwaites, who converted all 30 of her shots on goal.
"Looking back to the Comm Games, we weren't challenged up until the final against England.
"So we've taken a lot of courage from the fact we have managed to hold our composure and grind our way through it.
"That holds us in really good stead for the final tomorrow."
The final takes place on Sunday, while England face South Africa for the bronze medal.