How Australia rocketed to a 12th Netball World Cup crown

Ash Brazill's fist-bumped the Cape Town air with no attempt at discretion, grinned at her team-mates with that winning glint and then did not hold back on a victory cry even though there were still more than a hundred seconds left to play.

Time did not matter.

Australia had pulled 16 goals ahead of an England side in search of their first World Cup and Brazill's career was about to end on the highest of highs.

Moments later, with Australia playing the ball back up court, Brazill jumped into Jo Weston's arms and the pair hugged before separating to watch Kiera Austin score the final goal.

Then the countdown began.

The bench called it louder than the 5,000 strong crowd, all on their feet.

"Five, four..." Steph Wood's arms were in the air before they reached "three."

Cara Koenen braced her hands on her knees so she could scream the last two numbers louder.

"Two, One." And then a sea of yellow.

The Australians took over the court and at the centre of a group scrum was Brazill, celebrating with her first, and also her last, World Cup win.

She announced her decision to retire three months ago and she's sticking by it because she doesn't think it could have ended any better.

"You always want to go out this way," she said, less than 10 minutes later, the sweat still dripping off and the smile stuck on.

There aren't enough good letters to describe the way she whooped, but imagine the Rosie the Riveter poster making a sound as she flexes her bicep.

That was Brazill, ending a dominant Australian performance by passing on the baton.

"You know it's a good time to go when you're running around the younger players in the squad and they're keeping you on your toes."

Brazill, who played all 60 minutes of the final, formed an impressive defensive trio with goalkeeper Courtney Bruce and Jo Weston/Sarah Klau, who shared the role of goal-defence.

After England's shock victory over them earlier in the week, they adjusted impressively to close down any space the Roses were able to find and force them into errors.

"We were able to shut off the short passes and they had to go long and loopy and really execute under pressure," Weston told ESPN.

It was Weston's second quarter showing that swung the advantage Australia's way.

She made the gain that allowed Australia to pull away from 15-all and take a two-goal lead.

They did not fall behind at all from that point.

She also marked Housby with precision and caused her to lose the ball twice.

In that period of play, Weston showed the works she puts in that allows Bruce to take control later on.

Bruce finished with five gains in the match, proving Weston's point that, "my role up front is to try and shut down the short options so that she can see what's happening and then she can dominate."

Australia were able to capitalise on their gains.

After the first half, had a 100% goal from gain rate, compared to England's 60%.

That dropped in the second half, but by then Australia's goal shooters were fed enough balls for it not to matter.

Though much will be made of their defensive prowess, the masterstroke Stacey Marinkovich pulled off in attack also paid off.

After benching Sophie Garbin for the match against England earlier in the week, Marinkovich brought her on midway through the second quarter and three minutes laters swapped out Wood for Kiera Austin.

The Garbin-Austin combination had not been used in the tournament so far, while England had played all their hands in previous matches and many against Australia.

They rotated through their 12 so many times in the previous match against Australia that not even coach Jess Thirlby could remember them all.

At the time, it seemed Thirlby was willing to be more innovative than Marinkovich. Little did we know that the Diamonds' coach was keeping her cards close to her chest so she could reveal a full house when it mattered most.

Her tactics, as much as the on-field efforts, made the difference.

Ultimately, it also allowed Australia to underline a dominance that has seen them lift the Netball World Cup 12 times, four times as many as their nearest rivals, New Zealand.

But it does not mean things aren't shifting.

England's win over Australia earlier in the week was the clearest sign but with Jamaica's bronze-medal finish and Uganda placing fifth - their highest at a World Cup - also speak to the development of netball globally.

And Australia recognise that can only be good for them as it pushes them to get even better themselves.

Throughout the tournament, Australia's players have spoken about the narrowing gap between themselves and other teams in the top eight.

What they haven't revealed is what they are doing to ensure it does not close completely.

Instead, they showed that.

In the final, Australia held their nerve and transferred pressure when it mattered most and they did it through the players that allowed them to get to the gold medal match.

Bruce had already been awarded the Most Valuable Player three times in the seven matches before the final and went on to collect the defender of the tournament award but her efforts were built on the midcourt and the backline.

And one of them, Brazill, was given the perfect goodbye.

"It's very rare you get a fairytale ending," Weston said of Brazill's swansong.

"We debuted in the same match in 2015 and it's so special to be able to share this moment together."

Brazill happened to walk past at around about the same moment.

"But no-one else is going to retire just yet," she joked. "They're all too good."

And that they are.