The Silver Ferns' motto throughout their World Cup campaign in Sydney is "one shot".

For many of them, it could be said today's blockbuster final against Australia is also their "last shot".

For the sixth time in seven tournaments, the transtasman rivals will face off for world netball's biggest prize.

But New Zealand have triumphed on only one of those occasions — 2003.

Advertisement

Since then, an entire generation of Silver Ferns — some of whom like Casey Kopua, Laura Langman and Maria Tutaia will be remembered among the greatest players New Zealand have produced — have only ever tasted World Cup defeat.

Today will likely be their last tilt at a world title, and for veteran defender Leana de Bruin it is a chance to mark her 100th test, and probably last, appearance for the Silver Ferns in ultimate style.

At one point, many considered this group to have "no shot".

This was not the final match-up many had predicted heading into the tournament. With the Silver Ferns coming off a horror 2014 season, the New Zealand selectors were forced to take a punt on several untested youngsters for the World Cup — a group many had pegged for the bronze medal match.

The Ferns disproved those theories early on, pulling off a brilliant 52-47 win over Australia — a side they previously hadn't beaten for two years — on day three of the tournament.

But yesterday was the first time the Ferns' new-look attack, which includes two World Cup debutants — Bailey Mes and Grace Rasmussen — had experienced the pressure of a must-win game. With the exception of a shaky second quarter, New Zealand stood up to the challenge, toppling England 50-39.

Waimarama Taumaunu.
Waimarama Taumaunu.

The question is, can they do it again today now the Diamonds know what is coming?

"We're definitely in with a chance," said coach Waimarama Taumaunu.

Advertisement

"I think we probably pushed Australia out of a level of complacency, however, so I think they will approach us with a lot more seriousness than they did last Sunday. And we're keen to have another go as well."

While many may have believed the Ferns may have been better off keeping a few cards up their sleeves for a potential final showdown, that approach never crossed Taumaunu's mind.

She said the win earlier in the tournament was valuable as it confirmed to the players they were on the right track with their bold, new attacking game plan.

"We're trying to play a different style of game ... and we thought that was something that would enable us to be a contender here," she said. "But until you beat a team of the quality of Australia, it's just a thought. We've put everything on the floor so far, it will continue tomorrow."

But, as Langman puts it, that performance "poked the bear".

Australia returned to the team hotel last Sunday night and held two lengthy analysis sessions of the game, the learnings from which they have been putting out on the training court ever since.

Advertisement

Australian coach Lisa Alexander said her side had been paying particular attention to how they can break up New Zealand's remodelled zone defence.

"We've got to cope with the zone better, I think we will. We've got plans in place for that and we've been working on it all week," she said. "We have to have urgency, and I think a World Cup final will bring that."

Australian shooter Caitlin Bassett, who broke the hearts of New Zealand fans when she sunk the winning goal in extra time of the 2011 World Cup final in Singapore, said today will be an emotional day for her side as well, particularly for retiring defender Julie Corletto, who the team are desperate to send out on the biggest high possible.