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Australia regain world championship title

17 November 2007

Australia regain world championship title

Australia regained a familiar piece of silverware when they pipped the Silver Ferns 42-38 in a bruising New World Netball World Championship final in Auckland tonight.

Australia confirmed their pre-tournament favouritism to etch their name on the trophy for a ninth time.

In a low-scoring match which did not reach any great heights as a free-flowing spectacle, it still managed to keep the 7000-strong crowd glued to their seats, thanks to the non-stop intensity and the battling qualities of the two great rivals, who once again presented one of their showcase epics.

Time and again the Silver Ferns fought back from adversity as Australia threatened to take off.

The defensive qualities of captain Liz Ellis, Mo'onia Gerrard, Selina Gilsen and Natalie von Bertouch set the platform for Australia's slight edge throughout but the New Zealanders showed plenty of fighting spirit.

The Silver Ferns fought back valiantly on several occasions during the second half but Australia's great defensive wall meant they continued to live off scraps.

Australia enjoyed quarter leads of 13-10, 27-20 and 35-32.

Rugged defensive efforts were the feature of the game as both sets of shooters had their wobbly patches.

The Silver Ferns managed to grab two late rebounds through Casey Williams and Sheryl Scanlan but lost the opportunity to equalise as the Australian defence snuffed out the last gasp chance from the New Zealanders.

Australia held their nerve in a gripping final few minutes as the Silver Ferns fell just short of raining on their party with a late flurry.

"When that final whistle went there was a feeling of everything,'' Ellis said. "There was relief, happiness, excitement. We have just worked so hard and sacrificed an awful lot for this.''

Ellis said she never felt the win was in the bag until the final whistle blew.

``There was just so much pressure on every single attacking play that we had so there was no point where I thought we had it until the final whistle went,'' she said.

Jamaica shaded England 53-52 with a combination of flair and finishing to cement the bronze.

The flamboyant Caribbean team rose from the disappointment of losing their epic encounter with the Silver Ferns 24 hours earlier to lead from start to finish in the playoff for third.

Twelve goals ahead at one stage, Jamaica had to stave off a fast-finishing England who closed to within one before the final whistle sounded to claim a deserved win.

``They came out with composure and I was very proud of them,'' injured captain Elaine Davis said of Jamaica.

A veteran of four world championships, the curtain came down on Davis' outstanding career tonight.

``I'm disappointed I couldn't take the court a little more here but hey that's how life goes and the good signs are for Romelda Aiken who is really rising.''

Malawi erupted into on-court celebrations after eclipsing South Africa 52-49 in the playoff for fifth place.

The popular result ended a rewarding championship for the improving African nation, who came into the tournament unranked.

``We are very excited, it was a tough game and we are quite happy with what we have achieved at this championship,'' replacement shooter Linda Magombo said.

``To finish with the No 5 ranking is very good and we have seen ways here (championships) of how we can improve our game.''

Greater composure ensured the Cook Islands fended off their neighbours Samoa 56-55 in the battle of the Pacific to clinch seventh place.

Goalkeep Angela Tangimetua epitomised the poise, control and spirit shown by the Cook Islands players. The veteran competitor, attending her fourth world championship, chipped a tooth after an accidental clash with another player. Once cleared by the doctor, coach Anna Ana Noovao encouraged the towering defender to return to the court for what turned out to be a happy ending to her last international outing.

``For once it was a total team package today in a complete team performance, so I'm rapt and really, really happy,'' Noovao said.

ENDS

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