New Zealand Black Ferns vs England Red Roses, scores, result, highlights, news, Ruby Tui

By Sam Worthington with AP

New Zealand snapped England’s record 30 game winning streak to claim a pulsating Rugby World Cup final 34-31 in front of a raucous, sold out Eden Park crowd.

The defending champion Black Ferns were humiliated by England and France on last year’s European tour but new coach Wayne Smith masterminded an incredible turnaround.

It looked like England would pinch victory in the final minute via their dominant lineout maul but Kiwi lock Joanah Ngan-Woo stole the throw to send 42,579 mostly home fans into delirium.

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England winger Lydia Thompson was sent off in the 18th minute for a sickening head clash that knocked out New Zealand superstar Portia Woodman.

”For me, it’s clear head on head, she’s coming across at speed, it’s a reckless action, so it’s a red card for me,” referee Hollie Davidson said.

Woodman’s replacement, Ayesha Leti-I’iga, proved just as dynamic, scoring two tries including the decisive 72nd minute strike to put the Black Ferns in front.

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Classy try fires Black Ferns in front

“Most people probably don’t even know that last year we went on a northern tour and we got pumped,” New Zealand co-captain Ruahei Demant said.

“I’m proud of the way that the players have turned themselves around. We’ve sacrificed so much to get one chance in a lifetime to win a World Cup at home and we did it.”

England hooker Amy Cokayne touched down twice during a frenetic first half in which seven tries were scored.

Fluhler scores scintillating Black Ferns try

But New Zealand surprised England by also scoring tries to hooker Georgia Ponsonby and prop Amy Rule from driven mauls while still expressing itself with its back play.

The Black Ferns wrested the lead from England for first time with two tries in the first nine minutes of the second half which put it ahead 29-26.

The first was a magnificent backline try, finished by centre Stacey Fluhler and the second came from New Zealand’s surprisingly strong set piece.

Cokayne’s hat trick try, again from a lineout drive, after New Zealand yielded a penalty from a collapsed scrum in front of its posts, allowed England to regain the lead up 31-29 in the 54th minute.

New Zealand again rallied and Leti-I’iga scored after Fluhler won the race to a kick behind the England line and brilliantly held the ball up for the winger.

England was shattered by the result which upended its hope of turning its domination of women’s rugby over almost three years into a world title.

England strike first in World Cup final

It fielded nine players which lost to New Zealand in the last World Cup final in 2017, including captain Sarah Hunter.

“Sport can be cruel at times and I’m just so proud of the way this team has shown up, not just tonight but for the last three years,” Hunter said.

“Hopefully one result doesn’t define the team, the individuals, the people they’ve become and the journey we’ve been on.

“Tonight was a great showcase for women’s rugby and credit to New Zealand. You can’t take it away from them.”

New Zealand played with great spirit against an England team which unquestionably is the greatest women’s team in history.

England scored tries through fullback Ellie Kildunne and Cockayne to lead 14-0 after 14 minutes but New Zealand didn’t lose its shape or purpose.

Ponsonby’s try which immediately followed Thompson’s red card cut the lead to seven points.

England went ahead again with Marlie Packer’s try from a rolling maul in the 21st minute but New Zealand replied with a try to Leti-I’iga.

Cockayne made the lead 26-14 after 32 minutes but New Zealand rallied again with Rule’s try immediately before halftime.

New Zealand started the second half superbly with a long-distance try to Fluhler who worked an inter-passing move with fullback Renee Holmes.

When prop Krystal Murray scored, England found itself behind for the first time.

New Zealand co-captain Kennedy Simon was shown a yellow card for a high tackle in the 65th minute and Cockaye gave England the lead again.

Kiwi cult hero leads crowd into song

But New Zealand was not to be denied and reclaimed the lead, then held on under pressure for its sixth world title.

France claimed the bronze medal, beating Canada 36-0 in the playoff for third place.

New Zealand 34 (Ayesha Leti-I’iga 2, Georgia Ponsonby, Amy Rule, Stacey Fluhler, Krystal Murray tries; Renee Holmes 2 conversions) England 31 (Amy Cokayne 3, Ellie Kildunne, Marlie Packer tries; Emily Scarratt 3 conversions). HT: 19-26

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