NWC 2023: England 45 – Australia 61
Having lost out to New Zealand by just one goal in the last Netball World Cup final in Liverpool four years ago, Australia ensured there would be no repeat scenario when they defeated England 61-45 in the final in Cape Town on Sunday.
England were playing in their first ever Netball World Cup final after beating defending champions New Zealand in the semifinal while the Australians were contesting their ninth consecutive gold-medal match, having never finished lower than second in the tournament’s 60-year history.
Australia came out firing to take a two-goal lead after the opening exchanges, Steph Wood proving to be the creative force for the Diamonds on attack early on. England coach Jess Thirlby responded immediately, bringing on Fran Williams for Layla Guscoth at goal defence. The move proved an effective one with the Roses managing to close the gap and equalise at 12-12, but throwing away their opportunity to edge in front while the Australians were doing well to hold onto their possession. There was nothing to separate the teams by the first break, however, as they finished the quarter all square on 13-13.
It was the Diamonds who looked more in control after the break, showing patience to work their way around the England defence. While the Roses continued to work hard on turning ball over, they weren’t always capitalising on those opportunities that had been created, thanks to some solid defence from Jo Weston at goal defence and Courtney Bruce at goalkeeper.
That saw the Diamonds edging ahead and taking a four-goal lead into halftime. When the sides met on Thursday in their final group game in Cape Town, which England won by one goal, the Australians enjoyed a six-goal lead at halftime and would have been wary of letting that slip again.
True to form, the Diamonds had clearly learned from their mistakes, putting their foot down in the third quarter and looking like they were one step ahead of the Roses throughout. Their connections looked smooth and their confidence was rising, making them even more dangerous on attack. Thirlby continued to make multiple changes to the England lineup, and while there were moments of individual brilliance from the Roses, that did little to slow the flow of Australian goals. Kiera Austin scored as the whistle sounded to ensure her side went into the final break 10 goals up.
That was always going to be an unlikely gap to bridge in just 15 minutes for England who, to their credit, continued to fight until the final whistle. But with the Australians within grasp of the title they last won in 2015, the world’s top-ranked side simply continued to do what they do best, steadily building on their advantage to ensure they lifted the trophy for a record 12th time.
Q2: 23-27 (10-14)
Q3: 36-46 (13-19)
Q4: 45-61 (9-15)
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Kiera Austin (Australia)