Netball World Cup: England, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa battle for final

By Denise EvansBBC Sport in Liverpool
2019 Netball World Cup semi-finals, Liverpool
Date: Saturday, 20 July Time: Australia v South Africa (11:15 BST); England v New Zealand (15:00 BST)
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, Connected TVs, BBC Sport website and app; Follow daily live text commentaries online. Full details.

Commonwealth champions England will bid to reach their first Netball World Cup final when they take on New Zealand in the last four in Liverpool on Saturday.

The Roses are unbeaten in their home tournament so far but this will be their toughest test yet.

Four-time winners the Silver Ferns have contested the last five finals, playing Australia on every occasion.

The Aussie Diamonds are the holders and play South Africa in the first semi-final at 11:15 BST.

The Proteas, ranked fifth in the world, were runners-up in 1995 but had not reached another semi-final prior to this year's tournament.

There will be live coverage of England v New Zealand from 14:30 BST on BBC Two, BBC iPlayer, Red Button and online, with Australia v South Africa live on the Red Button and BBC Sport website and app from 11:00 BST.

'This will be a fantastic battle'

The Roses have reached the World Cup semi-final consistently since the tournament was reformatted in 1991 but have yet to advance to a final.

Most recently, at the 2015 tournament in Sydney, they lost 50-39 against New Zealand and went on to claim bronze.

However, England have beaten the Silver Ferns in their previous three meetings and having also won Commonwealth gold in 2018 are aiming to lift the trophy on home soil.

So far, coach Tracey Neville has had two difficult matches to negotiate, but they came through unscathed against world number two side Jamaica and finished the group stage in some style with a 57-48 win over South Africa.

New Zealand, meanwhile, will have to pick themselves up after losing by a single goal against Australia in their final group match.

Of Saturday's opponents, Roses defender Geva Mentor said: "I highly rate Noeline Taurua as a coach and she'll have done her homework on every single one of our players.

"They had a great game against Australia and they're in great form. They look really fit so it's going to be a fantastic battle."

Can South Africa stun all-powerful Australia?

On paper, it is almost impossible to see past an Australia semi-final victory given they have won 11 World titles - including the last three - and three Commonwealth golds.

They have the best domestic league in the world, the biggest financial backing and the most competitive development programme.

The Diamonds cantered through their first five games of this tournament, and, just like England, were not outscored in a single quarter until they came up against New Zealand in that final group game.

Underdogs South Africa beat the higher-ranked Jamaica convincingly in the group stage but were then outplayed for large periods in the loss to England.

The Proteas lost their influential captain Bongi Msomi in the first quarter and they will be sweating on her fitness for the Diamonds clash.

Coach Norma Plummer, a former world champion and Australia player, has turned the team into championship contenders since she took over in 2015, and the thought of receiving a substantial bonus for winning gold or silver will also be added motivation for the 74-year-old's players.

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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