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Golden Ferns: NZ wins Netball World Cup final by 1 goal

LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — New Zealand ended Australia's 12-year reign as Netball World Cup champion after a thrilling 52-51 win in the final on Sunday to earn its first title since 2003. New Zealand, gradually finding goals easier to come by, earned a three-goal lead in the final minute of the first half, and carried that momentum into the third quarter.

The Silver Ferns increased their lead to seven, but 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 against the Diamonds in the group stage on Thursday.

And it gave the Silver Ferns 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.

New Zealand capped a remarkable revival after failing to medal at the Commonwealth Games last year for the first time. Former international Noeline Taurua took over as coach in August and turned around the team's belief and confidence. Her contract ended with the stunning triumph.

"What will be will be," she said. She paid tribute to the "fossils," the veterans Maria Folau, captain and record cap-holder Laura Langman, the retiring Kopua, and Katrina Rore. Folau led the scoring charts for the Silver Ferns with 28 but it was the uncanny accuracy of teammate Ameliaranne Ekenasio that began to make the difference as her team started to turn on the style. Kopua's brilliance stifled the inevitable Australia 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.

England won a third consecutive bronze medal after beating South Africa 58-42.

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