Netball World Cup 2019: England beat South Africa to book New Zealand semi-final

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Netball World Cup: Jo Harten stars as England beat South Africa
2019 Netball World Cup in Liverpool on the BBC
Dates: 12-21 July
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, Connected TVs, BBC Sport website and app from 15 July; Follow daily live text commentaries online. Full details.

England booked a semi-final meeting with New Zealand at the Netball World Cup by beating South Africa 58-47 in their final group match.

In the battle for Group G's top spot, the Roses outclassed their opponents - especially in the first half.

World number five side South Africa closed the gap after the break but England's unbeaten record in Liverpool never felt under threat.

The Proteas will face holders Australia in Saturday's first semi (11:15 BST).

The Aussie Diamonds, the 11-time champions, overcame New Zealand 50-49 earlier on Thursday to top Group F and also remain undefeated.

A semi-final meeting with the Silver Ferns, which starts at 15:00 BST, feels like the lesser of two evils for Tracey Neville's England, but their performance on Thursday will give them plenty of confidence against a team who have won the trophy four times.

This game was expected to be a real test for England, with South Africa winning all their five matches en route to their tie.

Norma Plummer's side had also won their last meeting at the Quad Series in January but the 74-year-old admitted her side could not handle the pressure on the big stage in front of a partisan home crowd.

Shooting pair Jo Harten and Helen Housby were in brilliant form for the Roses - especially Harten, whose highlight reel included nailing a shot on the turn from the edge of the area with seconds left on the clock in the first quarter.

"I think we had a feeling it was going to be a good day before we went on the court," said Harten, who earned her 100th cap earlier in the tournament and was part of the bronze winning side in 2015.

"We wanted to stamp our authority early and we did. That was probably one of our best partnerships and best team performances in a few years. I am loving playing out there."

After a error-filled first half, South Africa gathered themselves after the break and only lost the third quarter by two goals, but the damage was already done.

They now face the unenviable task of preparing to face the most successful team in the world in the semi-finals.

"England were on the money, it was pretty obvious," said Plummer, a former Australia player and coach. "We were nervous as this is the first time we've been here in 25 years. It's made us realise the next two games you have to go in and handle the pressure.

"You don't process things when you're nervous and things go past you. It's a real wake-up call that you've got to be able to handle it."

This is the first time South Africa have reached the semi-finals and it has been revealed the players will receive a 1m rand (£57,000) bonus if they win the World Cup final on Sunday.

BBC Sport has launched #ChangeTheGame this summer to showcase female athletes in a way they never have been before. Through more live women's sport available to watch across the BBC this summer, complemented by our journalism, we are aiming to turn up the volume on women's sport and alter perceptions. Find out more here.

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