|New Zealand: (19) 34|
|Try: Ponsonby, Leti-I’iga 2, ruler, Fluhler, Murray; The inconvenients: Holmes 2|
|England: (26) 31|
|Try: Kildunne, Cokayne 3, M Packer; The inconvenients: Scarrat 3|
England’s winning streak ended in the most important match of all as New Zealand lifted the World Cup for the sixth time on a historic night for women’s rugby at Eden Park.
In what must be one of the most dramatic World Cup finals ever, the Red Roses were down to 14 when Lydia Thompson was shown a red card in the 18th minute and led for most of the game. match.
England had lost four previous finals to New Zealand and their hearts were again broken as Ayesha Leti-I’iga’s try regained a three-point lead for the hosts nine minutes from time.
The Red Roses had a chance of victory with a final lineout – their most potent weapon of the entire tournament – with the clock in the red, but lost their shot to the delight of a fierce record crowd for a women’s game of 43,759.
The joy on the faces of the New Zealand players and fans stood in stark contrast to the England players, who stood in tears with their heads in their hands as they reflected on the fact that their record 30-game winning streak had ended. finished at the most important moment.
England start strongest in entertaining final
As Eden Park roared in support at the pre-match haka, with England spread across the pitch and looking back, it was clear it would be a day women’s rugby fans would remember for years to come.
Both sides saw the opportunity to send their sport stratospheric and delivered pure entertainment from start to finish.
England started at pace, giving New Zealand a taste of their own running game. They spread all over New Zealand and Emily Scarratt found Ellie Kildunne for the first try.
There was enough action in the first 10 minutes for three finals and Amy Cokayne – who was called up to a Black Ferns camp as a teenager before choosing England – quickly got her first of three tries in the driving maul of the Red Roses.
More drama came as a high tackle from Thompson on World Cup record try scorer Portia Woodman resulted in the red card.
New Zealand had relied on their unpredictable play at the back in earlier rounds but proved they could also manhandle as Georgia Ponsonby passed after a throw-in immediately afterwards.
Another England maul try – this time for Marlie Packer – prompted another response from the Black Ferns, with the Red Roses taken aback as Leti-I’iga ran through plenty of open space to score her first try.
Again England turned to their squad, another try for Cokayne, as England’s focus collided with New Zealand’s chaos and Black Ferns mainstay Amy Rule, closed the half by peeling off the back of a maul to pass and make it 26-19 for England. favor at halftime.
New Zealand breaks English hearts again
England captain Sarah Hunter is still bearing the pain of her final loss to New Zealand in 2017, but after such a promising start it looked like she might finally get some retaliation.
The black ferns felt differently. They suffered two record defeats against England in 2021, prompting their union to take action. The players turned professional earlier in 2022 – joining England who have had that status since 2019 – and two-time Men’s World Cup-winning coach Smith was brought in to lead the side.
The effect of these changes was obvious. Stacey Fluhler ran out of her 22 and sent Scarratt the wrong way. The center linked up with Renee Holmes to pass before the full-back missed a conversion that would have leveled the scores.
Suddenly England struggled to contain the New Zealand defense and as the pressure mounted in their 22, Krystal Murray burst through Lucy Packer to put the Black Ferns ahead for the first time.
Such is England’s confidence in their driving maul, Zoe Harrison opted to kick in the corner instead of taking a penalty which would have leveled the game again.
The Red Roses were rewarded as Cokayne completed her hat trick before New Zealand joined England with 14 players because Kennedy Simon was shown a yellow card for a dangerous tackle on Abby Dow, who left the field for a head injury assessment.
Then came the final and decisive strike from the Black Ferns. Theresa Fitzpatrick kicked in Fluhler, who unloaded the ball superbly as she fell to the ground to dispatch Leti-I’iga and put New Zealand back in front.
Again England had the chance to level the scores with a penalty and again they kicked in the corner. This time, perhaps for the first time in this World Cup, their line-up let them down and New Zealand won the ball to become champions for the sixth time.
During the week, New Zealand star wing Ruby Tui had reminded reporters that there was a time when no one knew who the Black Ferns were.
The image of them lifting the trophy as a full Eden Park chanted their name, before they performed a haka for their adoring fans, can certainly be categorized as iconic.
England: Kildunne; Thompson, Scarratt, Aitchison, Dow; Harrison, L Packer; Cornborough, Cokayne, Bern, Aldcroft, Ward, Matthews, M Packer, Hunter (captain).
Replacements: Davies, Muir, Brown, O’Donnell, Cleall, Kabeya, MacDonald, Heard.
New Zealand: Holmes; Tui, Fluhler, Fitzpatrick, Woodman; Demant (captain), Cocksedge; Love, Ponsonby, Rule, Roos, C Bremner, A Bremner, Hirini, McMenamin.
Replacements: Connor, Murray, Taumata, Ngan-Woo, Simon, Bayler, Tubic, Leti-I’iga.
Arbitrator: Hollie Davidson (Sco)