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Netball World Cup: Five things England must do to reach final

Former England star Sara Bayman tells PA the five factors which could see the hosts book their place in the final.

England are targeting a place in their first Netball World Cup final since 1975 when they face New Zealand in the last four in Liverpool on Saturday.

Tracey Neville's team have soared through the tournament but know they must raise their game against the Silver Ferns, who pushed holders and favourites Australia to within one goal in the group stage on Thursday.

Here, former England star and ANZ Premiership player Sara Bayman tells PA the five factors which could see the hosts book their place in the final – and ultimately emerge with the trophy.


Tracey Neville
Tracey Neville hopes to laugh all the way to the World Cup final (Nigel French/PA)

"I don't think Tracey Neville will make radical changes but she will highlight key things like the New Zealand style of zone defence which will come into play a lot. She will also be looking for someone to take a strong drive up the centre. Jo Harten and Serena Guthrie have played in New Zealand a lot so they have got the inside info. New Zealand missed a Commonwealth medal for the first time last year but they have sent a message during this tournament that the old Kiwis are back."


England's Gold Coast triumph could help sweep them to another title (Martin Rickett/PA)

"I think it has really changed since the Gold Coast. Australia always had an aura about them – no one believed they were going to lose. Now England are the ones who walk into the arena and everyone gets a sense that someone important has arrived. They will not under-estimate the other teams but they have grown in confidence and they have a got a swagger that you don't usually sees from England teams. In the past they have been quite self-effacing."

Star quality

Serena Guthrie
Captain Serena Guthrie has been pivotal in England's success so far (Nigel French/PA)

"(England captain) Serena Guthrie has been having a huge impact on every game. It will be great to see her up against New Zealand's Laura Langman, who is one of the all-time greats herself, and if these two end up cancelling each other out, it is important to have different players to step up and perform well. Jo Harten and Geva Mentor have had a couple of massive games. We've got some really tough match-ups in this match but the experience England bring will give them confidence."

Unsung heroes

Chelsea Pitman
Chelsea Pitman's role for England has been under-estimated (Nigel French/PA)

"Chelsea Pitman has gone a bit under the radar for England. Previously she has come in for a bit of criticism for some wild balls, but in this tournament she has been able to harness creativity and flair with also being the safety option. The shooters are calmed by her presence on the edge of the circle. When we give the credit to the shooters, it is actually Chelsea giving them the easy ball and relieving them of pressure."


England netball
England Netball fans can cheer their team to success (Nigel French/PA)

"The noise level is so much higher for England games and I feel they are embracing it positively. In Glasgow and Gold Coast they got a taste for how great the crowds can be. When you get down to games that are going to be decided by one goal and there is a bit of luck involved, the crowd can make a huge difference and transfer their belief that England are going to win. The crowd have played a huge part in England's success so far."

:: Netball World Cup is free to air across BBC TV, Radio and Online

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Tracey Neville pictured in 2015
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