England's players celebrate an historic victory over New Zealand in Cape Town ©Getty Images

England have reached their first-ever Netball World Cup final after defeating defending champions New Zealand in a thrilling semi-final in South Africa.

There was little between the two teams as they went toe-to-toe in a gripping contest before England emerged 46-40 winners at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

It was an historic victory for England who had never previously got beyond the semi-finals and had lost narrowly to New Zealand at the same stage when the event was staged on home soil in 2019.

"I know it is predictable but I just feel pride," England coach Jess Thirlby told the BBC.

"Sometimes you just have to sit tight through the ups and downs, the wins and the losses, and we have done that.

"I think the mental side of our game has massively shifted. Sometimes it takes 58 minutes before you get the reward but they kept at it and got it in the end."

It has been an impressive turnaround from England who failed to pick up a medal at last year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

England co-captain Natalie Metcalf admitted that it had been a "tough year" and was bristling with pride after the semi-final victory.

"We've got to celebrate and enjoy the moment, what a moment it is for England netball," added Metcalf.

"But we need to make sure we stick to the processes and remain consistent as we have done the entire tournament."

England stunned 11-time champions Australia in the group stages and will need to beat them again to secure the title.

Australia sealed their place in another Netball World Cup final, after the ten-times champions overcame Jamaica in the other semi-final.

The match was level at half-time before Australia found an extra gear to edge the next two quarters to secure a 57-54 triumph.

Competition is due to conclude tomorrow with Jamaica and New Zealand set to go head-to-head in the bronze-medal match before England and Australia face each other in the final.