Black day for Aussie netball as era ends
New Zealand ended Australia's dominance of the Netball World Cup by knocking off the Diamonds 52-51 in an absorbing final in Liverpool.
Embarrassed at last year's Commonwealth Games after defeat to Malawi saw them fail to win a medal, the Silver Ferns capped off a remarkable turnaround under mastercoach Noeline Taurua to deny the Diamonds a 12th title.
Taurua, who has led Sunshine Coast Lightning to two successive Super Netball titles, took over the post 11 months ago following that disastrous campaign on the Gold Coast and turned the team into world champions.
The victory also prevented a fourth successive crown for Australia as New Zealand lifted the trophy for the first time since 2003.
In a sixth successive World Cup match-up between the two nations, the game was a predictably tight affair with the lead exchanging hands on numerous occasions.
Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander opted for the side that beat New Zealand by a single goal on Thursday, with skipper Caitlin Bassett, Steph Wood and Kelsey Browne all restored to the attacking line-up.
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.
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 semicircle with clutch finishes.
With less than a minute remaining a Bassett (35 from 40) goal cut the deficit to one 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."