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Netball World Cup review: The best and worst moments, star player and coach of tournament

Ben Bloom
New Zealand beat Australia in the World Cup final having beaten England in the semi-final - Getty Images Europe

The netball World Cup is over. New Zealand emerged as champions, beating Australia in the final.

England couldn't repeat the glory of last year's Commonwealth Games, losing out on a place in the final but taking the bronze medal. Here are some of our most notable observations from the tournament. 

Biggest disappointment 1

Four years ago, the brief given to Tracey Neville was to guide England to the next World Cup final in Liverpool. Last year's Commonwealth gold raised expectations further that Neville's side could even be capable of winning their first world title. Things began so well with a perfect unbeaten record through the group stage but, ultimately, their 2019 World Cup campaign will go down as a failure after an eighth successive semi-final exit. Bronze was not what they came here for.

Biggest disappointment 2

For all that the pre-tournament predictions focused on Australia, England and whether New Zealand could turn around their poor recent form, it was Jamaica who came to Liverpool ranked No 2 in the world. Defeat against South Africa early in the group stage was something of a surprise, but it was the manner of their loss against England that was most stark, as they were sent out of the tournament with a whimper. Fifth place - their worst World Cup finish for 24 years.

Best match

New Zealand and Australia's group game was played at a ferocious intensity Credit:  PA

Having both cruised through the group stage against lowly opposition, Australia and New Zealand faced each other on the first of two occasions in Liverpool to determine who their semi-final opponents would be. Not only was the match a thriller - with New Zealand missing a shot on the buzzer to lose 50-49 - but it was played with a ferocious intensity not seen at any other game in Liverpool... until the same two sides met again in the final.

Surprise package

Prior to this tournament, Zimbabwe's only experience of netball outside of Africa was a trip to Hong Kong to play countries that did not even qualify for this World Cup. In spite of such limited exposure, they punched way above their weight in Liverpool, winning three matches - and the admiration of every spectator who watched them - on their World Cup debut to finish eighth. With increased funding and more opportunities to play bigger nations they could be a force to be reckoned with in the future.

Star player

Karla Pretorious was superb for South Africa Credit: REUTERS

In a tournament dominated by some outstanding defence, it was South Africa's goal defence Karla Pretorius who perhaps shone brightest. Her partnership with Phumza Maweni was a match for the best attackers in the world and she did not deserve to miss out on a podium finish. New Zealand's back three of Jane Watson, Casey Kopua and Katrina Rore were also outstanding in their semi-final and final, while special mention must go to England captain Serena Guthrie, who was a colossus at centre in every match bar the semi-final defeat.

Best goal

You would be hard-pressed to find a better goal in any competition than Jo Harten's long-range bomb to end the first quarter in England's last group stage game against South Africa. With just one second remaining of the opening period as she received the ball right on the edge of the circle, she swivelled and shot all in one motion to sink a stunner. It epitomised England's best game of the tournament.

Best coach

When Noeline Taurua took over after New Zealand's worst ever Commonwealth Games performance last year, the Kiwis looked a team whose best years were behind them. Yet she has turned them around, masterminding a brilliant performance against England in the semi-finals and then beating their biggest rivals Australia to the world title. Some achievement.