Lisa Alexander had predicted a Netball World Cup final with New Zealand before the tournament even began.
“Nobody tended to listen to me,” the Diamonds coach said after Australia beat Jamaica 67-56 in their semi-final to set up the sport’s most anticipated showdown in Sydney.
“Hopefully they think I do know something about it now.”
Yet another chapter of the fierce rivalry between the world’s two best teams will be written at Allphones Arena on Sunday.
It may be the latest of many, but it’s shaping as one to remember – if not only because the balance of power across the Tasman has shifted.
As hosts and defending world champions, Australia started this world cup as raging favourites to claim an 11th trophy in front of home fans.
But a week after suffering an unexpected preliminary-round defeat to the less-fancied world No.2 Silver Ferns, the girls in green and gold aren’t approaching this one lightly.
Diamonds goal attack Natalie Medhurst said that loss – the first in 10 meetings – had poked the bear.
Kiwi captain Casey Kopua responded by saying their bear was bigger and scarier.
Aussie captain Laura Geitz eschewed the bear analogy, but was assured the loss had lit the spark her team needed to triumph.
“A team has to experience the pits to fully come back and able to put out better performances,” she said.
“It’s actually a bit of a blessing, it forces you to make changes and do things that haven’t worked.”
Against fourth-ranked Jamaica, Australia showed every bit of flair and versatility they’ll require to vanquish the in-form Kiwis, who were ruthless in their 50-39 semi-final defeat of England earlier on Saturday.
Caitlin Bassett, who shot 49 goals from 52 attempts against Jamaica, said players were finally allowing their thoughts to shift to the decider after a week of shutting them out.
“Our focus has been just to get to the gold-medal match – we knew that was never a given and we weren’t just going to be able to stroll here,” she said.
“So it has been a lot of hard work for us over the last 10 days.
“Now that we are finally here, we can look to the match and start discussing those types of things.”
Alexander is confident, but not overly so.
“We have to make sure we cope with the midcourt zone better. I think we will. We’ve got plans in place for that, we’ve actually been working on it all week,” she said.
“And our defensive effort has to be there … we have to have that level of urgency and intensity in our attitudes.
“I think a World Cup final will bring that.”