England 10 New Zealand 13
- England have to settle for second best in hard-fought WRWC Final
- Record crowd watch New Zealand edge out the hosts
England were unable to end New Zealand’s stranglehold on the Women’s Rugby World Cup (WRWC) on Sunday as the defending champions were crowned world champions for a fourth successive tournament.
England came so close to taking women's rugby’s ultimate prize with a magnificent effort in front of a record breaking WRWC crowd of over 13,000 at the Twickenham Stoop, drawing level with the Black Ferns in the last quarter. Only a late penalty from the boot of centre Kelly Brazier took the victory out of England’s reach.
England Head Coach Gary Street said: “I am so proud of the players. At the moment we are all so disappointed but I genuinely believe in the bigger picture of this result. The legacy this tournament will leave behind is huge. The fact that a women’s rugby game filled the Stoop is ground breaking. Such a thought would have been regarded as nonsense before this tournament began.
“New Zealand were excellent today but our defence matched their attack, and I thought we had the momentum at 10-10 to take the win, but unfortunately for us they eventually won by the smallest of margins.”
A nervous start by England put the home side on the defence from the beginning with a knock on from the kick off, which handed New Zealand an early opportunity to exert their dominance.
Immediately the Black Ferns showed why they were defending champions, and made England defend furiously. An incredible effort in defence, including try saving tackles by Danielle Waterman and Margaret Alphonsi saved an early score by the visitors.
New Zealand also had their first opportunity at the posts within eight minutes but Brazier missed the target, as did Emma Jensen six minutes later, letting England off the hook.
With New Zealand in explosive form England were unable to get into their stride and were constantly on the defensive, though they had their first real chance following the sin-binning of fly-half Anna Richards.
Photo: Getty Images
Some good immediate pressure by England got them into New Zealand’s 22 for the first time, but just like England’s defence New Zealand held firm. England fly half Katy McLean was also unable to add three points after missing a penalty.
New Zealand, meanwhile, lost a second player, Mel Bosman, to the sin bin but moments later England gave away a penalty in their own 22. New Zealand opted not to kick for goal and their gamble paid off. With Richards returning to the field, the visitors took clean line out ball and spun it into the midfield, with wing Carla Hohepa finding a gap to touchdown for the first try and first points of the evening on 33 minutes. Brazier added the conversion to hand her side a 7-0 lead the break
But England’s hopes were far from extinguished and McLean soon added England’s first points with a steadying 43rd minute penalty. Brazier could have matched McLean’s efforts minutes later, but her kick went astray leaving England just 7-3 adrift.
The tournament's top try-scorer Hohepa was once again in dangerous form and made a threatening break, but lock Jo McGilchrist matched the winger’s speed to execute a try saving tackle. England were once again magnificent in defence as Richards went close, before they were overturned.
Photo: Getty Images
Brazier stroked over a 55th minute penalty but with New Zealand losing captain Melissa Ruscoe to the sin bin England were now in control to the delight of the vocal Stoop crowd.
A well worked England line-out and drive saw scrum half Amy Turner go close. New Zealand were penalised and a series of scrums allowed the home side to batter New Zealand’s defence. Eventually another solid scrum just five metres out saw Turner pop the ball out to the right wing for Charlotte Barras to pounce on and score. With McLean adding the conversion England drew level at 10-10.
England rolled on their experienced replacements for some fresh legs but they were unable to make a further dent on the score board. In fact it was New Zealand who took advantage stroking over a crucial 65th minute penalty and putting the victory out of reach for the home side.
Australia claim third place
Having lost to England in the semi finals, Australia went on to beat France to third place earlier in the day.
France got the first points with a penalty from fly half Aurelie Bailon, but it was the Wallaroos impassioned display of rugby in the first half that earned them the victory overall.
Tries from second row Alex Hargreaves, fullback Tricia brown and a brace from inside Cobie-Jane Morgan took them into the lead 22-3 at halftime, despite a sin binning of Nicole Beck 11 minutes in.
The second half proved to be a much quieter affair. Australia tried to score from the backs moves that had worked so well for them before the break but France shut them down well. Les Bleus went down to 13 players in the third quarter with two of their players sin binned but played their best rugby all game regardless of the overlap. The only score in the second half came from France when replacement lock Manon Andre drove over the line, but it wasn’t enough and the game finished with Australia worthy of third place in the tournament.
15 Danielle Waterman (Worcester), 14 Charlotte Barras (Saracens), 13 Emily Scarratt (Lichfield), 12 Rachael Burford (Richmond), 11 Katherine Merchant (Worcester), 10 Katy McLean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks) VC, 9 Amy Turner (Richmond), 1 Rochelle Clark (Team Northumbria), 2 Amy Garnett (Saracens), 3 Sophie Hemming (Bristol), 4 Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 5 Jo McGilchrist (Wasps), 6 Sarah Hunter (Lichfield), 7 Margaret Alphonsi (Saracens), 8 Catherine Spencer (Bristol) Captain.
Replacements: 16 Emma Croker (Richmond), 17 Claire Purdy (Wasps), 18 Becky Essex (Richmond), 19 Sarah Beale (Lichfield), 20 La Toya Mason (Wasps), 21 Alice Richardson (Richmond), 22 Amber Penrith (Worcester)
Substitutions: Richardson for Burford (50), Purdy for Clark, Essex for Taylor (both 64), Croker for Merchant, Mason for Turner (all 69), Beale for Spencer (70)
15 Victoria Grant, 14 Carla Hohepa, 13 Huriana Manuel , 12 Kelly Brazier, 11 Renee Wickliffe, 10 Anna Richards , 9 Emma Jensen, 1 Ruth McKay, 2 Fiao'o Fa'amausili, 3 Mel Bosman, 4 Vita Robinson, 5 Victoria Heighway, 6 Melissa Ruscoe (C), 7 Justine Lavea, 8 Casey Robertson.
Replacements: 16 Karina Penetito, 17 Stephanie Te Ohaere-Fox, 18 Linda Itunu, 19 Joan Sione, 20 Kendra Cocksedge, 21 Rebecca Mahoney, 22 Trisha Hina
Penalties: Brazier (2)
Half time score: England 0 New Zealand 7
Referee: Sarah Corrigan
Assistant Referees: David Keane & Kerstin Ljungdahl