Netball Proteas edged by Australian Diamonds in thrilling semi-final
Australia scrambled to a narrow two-point semi-final win over South Africa's Proteas in Liverpool on Saturday to claim a berth in Sunday's final at the Netball World Cup.
The Diamonds edged the Proteas 55-53 in a nail-biting match and it was heartbreak for the South Africans, who were competing in the last four at a World Cup for the first time.
South Africa went into the match on the back of a 58-47 loss against hosts England in what had been their only defeat of the tournament while Australia would have been confident having won 11 of the previous 13 World Cups.
Before the match, South African coach Norma Plummer said she had identified what she thought Australia's weaknesses were and her homework nearly paid off.
"I'm absolutely delighted for where we've taken the number one team in the world," said 74-year-old Plummer, who went on to confirm she would step down at the end of the tournament.
"We could still get a medal. Tomorrow is my 50th Test match with South Africa, and then I'm handing over the reins. I've done four years and shown them the way. It's up to them now," said post-match.
Australia coach Lisa Alexander said she had bought back experienced players to match the Proteas.
"We certainly didn't take South Africa lightly and you know, to be able to bring such great quality players back onto the floor when it was needed was fantastic," said Alexander.
"I'm proud of them. They're a bunch of fighters. They played smart when we needed it and that's exactly what we have to do in pressure games."
Australia will face the winner of the second semi-final between hosts England and New Zealand in the final on Sunday at 6pm (SA time).
The SA women's team will play the loser of that clash in the battle for the bronze medal on Sunday, at 3.30pm.
Lenize Potgieter 39/41 (95%)
Maryka Holtzhausen 14/16 (88%)
Caitlin Thwaites 30/30 (100%)
Steph Wood 2/3 (67%)
Gretel Tippett 23/23 (100%)