34-31 England’s Black Ferns win the World Cup

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By Creative Media News

New Zealand won the World Cup for the sixth time on a historic night for women’s rugby at Eden Park as England’s winning streak came to an end in the most important match.

In what must have been one of the most dramatic World Cup finals of all time, the Red Roses were reduced to 14 players in the 18th minute when Lydia Thompson was shown a red card and led for the majority of the match.

England had previously lost four finals to New Zealand, and their hearts were broken once again when Ayesha Leti-try I’iga gave the hosts a three-point lead with nine minutes remaining.

34-31 england's black ferns win the world cup
34-31 england's black ferns win the world cup

The Red Roses had a chance to win with one final line-out – their most potent weapon of the entire tournament – with the clock in the red, but they missed their throw to the delight of a record-breaking crowd of 42,579.

England’s players stood in tears with their heads in their hands as they contemplated the fact that their record 30-Test winning streak had come to an end when it mattered most.

As a full Eden Park roared in support of the pre-match haka, with England spread across the pitch and staring back incredulously, it became evident that this would be a day women’s rugby fans would remember for years to come.

Black ferns win the world cup
34-31 england's black ferns win the world cup

Both teams seized the opportunity to take their sport to new heights and provided pure entertainment from start to finish.

England began with speed, providing New Zealand with a taste of their own running game. They dispersed New Zealand, and Emily Scarratt found Ellie Kildunne for the game’s first touchdown.

Amy Cokayne, who was invited to a Black Ferns camp as a teenager before choosing England, scored her first of three tries in the Red Roses’ signature driving maul within the first ten minutes.

A high tackle by Thompson on Portia Woodman, the record World Cup try scorer, resulted in a red card.

New Zealand had relied on their unpredictable backline play in previous rounds, but Georgia Ponsonby’s try following the subsequent line-out proved they could also maul.

Another England maul tries, this time for Marlie Packer, prompted another Black Ferns response, as Leti-I’iga ran through ample open space to score her first try, catching the Red Roses off guard.

England’s focus collided with New Zealand’s chaos, resulting in another try for Cokayne, and Black Ferns prop Amy Rule scored off the back of a maul to give England a 26-19 halftime lead.

New Zealand again breaks English hearts

Sarah Hunter, captain of England, still feels the sting of her team’s 2017 final loss to New Zealand, but after such a promising start, it appeared that she would finally receive retribution.

The Black Ferns had different emotions. In 2021, they suffered two record-setting defeats at the hands of England, prompting their union to take action. The players became professionals earlier in 2022, joining England, whose players have been professionals since 2019; two-time men’s World Cup-winning coach Smith was hired to lead the team.

The effect of these modifications was obvious. Stacey Fluhler ran out of her own 22 and misdirected Scarratt. The center and Renee Holmes scored a try in conjunction before the fullback missed a conversion that would have tied the game.

As England struggled to contain New Zealand’s backline, Krystal Murray bulldozed through Lucy Packer to give the Black Ferns their first lead.

Due to England’s confidence in their driving maul, Zoe Harrison chose to kick for the corner rather than take the penalty that would have tied the game once more.

Cokayne completed her hat-trick for the Red Roses before New Zealand joined England with 14 players due to Kennedy Simon’s yellow card for a dangerous tackle on Abby Dow, who left the field for a head injury evaluation.

The Black Ferns then made their final and decisive strike. Theresa Fitzpatrick kicked ahead for Fluhler, who deftly passed the ball to Leti-I’iga as she fell to the ground to put New Zealand back in front.

Once more, England had the opportunity to tie the score with a penalty kick, but they again kicked to the corner. This time, possibly for the first time in this World Cup, their line-out failed them, and New Zealand regained possession of the ball to win their sixth title.

Throughout the week, New Zealand’s star wing Ruby Tui reminded journalists that the Black Ferns were once virtually unknown.

The image of them lifting the trophy as Eden Park chanted their name, followed by their performance of the haka for their adoring fans, is certainly iconic.

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