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Sunday, 4 August, 2002, 14:26 GMT 15:26 UK

Aussies triumph in final drama

New Zealand 55-57 Australia
(After sudden death extra-time)

Australia retained their Commonwealth Games netball title with a memorable final victory over New Zealand.

The Antipodean rivals were tied at 46-46 at the end of normal time, and 14 minutes of extra-time saw the sides still level at 55-55.

"It felt like the match had gone on forever"
Winning scorer Sharelle McMahon

That sent the contest into sudden death, and Australia goal attack Sharelle McMahon came back to haunt the Silver Ferns for the second major final in a row.

McMahon, who scored the winning goal 20 seconds from the end of the 1999 World Championships final, netted again to give Australia the necessary two-goal gap needed for the gold medal.

"It's an amazing feeling," said McMahon.

"What a great feeling it is to win a gold medal like that. It felt like the match had gone on forever.

Kiwi goal-shooter Irene Van Dyk paid tribute to the champions.

"Australia were awesome. They put it through when the pressure was on but it was amazing experience."

Both sides had chances to win the contest in extra-time.

McMahon netted two early goals to give Australia a two-goal lead.

But New Zealand goal attack Irene van Dyk, the tournament's most prolific shooter, scored three quick goals in a row to put the Silver Ferns 53-52 ahead.

With less than two minutes on the clock she was awarded a penalty under the net, but incredibly missed to give Australia a lifeline.

Catherine Cox seized it with two efforts from the edge of the shooting zone.

And although Donna Loffhagen levelled matters in the dying seconds, Australia were not to be denied their victory.

New Zealand squandered the chance to take gold in normal time at the MEN Arena.

They led by three with less than 10 minutes to play, and still held a two-point lead with under two minutes on the clock.

But Cox netted a magnificent long-range goal 20 seconds from time to set up the thrilling finale.

Earlier, Jamaica beat England 55-53 in a thrilling play-off to claim the bronze medal.


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