England beat holders New Zealand to reach World Cup final for first time

By Sports Desk August 05, 2023

England have reached the World Cup final for the first time by beating reigning champions New Zealand 46-40 in Cape Town.

The Roses stayed on course to become the only nation other than Australia or New Zealand to lift the trophy in the modern era and sparked scenes of jubilation on their bench at the end of a thrilling semi-final.

Jess Thirlby’s side will now face either top-ranked Australia or Jamaica in Sunday’s final after holding their nerve against the Silver Ferns and grinding out a thrilling win.

Thirlby told the BBC: “Everyone wants the same thing. Every team will say they are tight and they have learned and grown, but for the last few games there has just been a different feel to this campaign.

“Sometimes you just have to sit tight through the ups and downs, the wins and the lossess, and we have done that.

“To see out a game goal for goal hasn’t really been characteristic of us yet. But to overcome Australia and then finish a game like that with a five or six goal run against the defending champions…

“I think the mental side of our game has massively shifted. Sometimes it takes 56 minutes before you get the reward but they kept at it and got it in the end.”

England will be full of confidence after securing wins against both Australia and now New Zealand for the first time at a World Cup, having beaten the former 56-55 on Thursday.

Their semi-final against the Silver Ferns hung in the balance going into the final quarter with the scores locked at 32-32.

The decisive moment came with four minutes remaining with England 41-40 ahead when Fran Williams made a brilliant clean intercept to help the Roses extend their lead.

When Helen Housby missed a chance to put England 43-40 up with the clock ticking down, Eleanor Cardwell pounced on the rebound to make it.

Imogen Allison then produced another crucial touch to keep the ball in play as England added five points without reply and it was left to Housby to seal a historic win.

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