Red Roses wilt against Black Ferns on­slaught

The Rugby Paper - - Women’s World Cup - ■ By BREN­DAN GAL­LAGHER

NEW ZEALAND, shocked at their fail­ure to reach the 2014 fi­nal, fi­nally erased that stain from their mem­o­ries with a pow­er­house per­for­mance in the sec­ond half that Eng­land sim­ply could not match.

Five of New Zealand’s seven tries came af­ter the break as they moved smoothly up through the gears with their in­spired pack pro­vid­ing the plat­form for the sweet­est of wins.

Eng­land had pro­vided stern op­po­si­tion for the first 40 min­utes, in­deed they led at half-time, but al­though their heads never dropped and they took what chances came their way the prospect of vic­tory grad­u­ally slipped away as the sec­ond half pro­gressed. They were well beaten on the night.

No Women’s World Cup Fi­nal has yet taken place with­out Eng­land or New Zealand tak­ing cen­tre stage and these two sides al­ways looked des­tined to duke it out again this year al­though France are a com­ing force and made Eng­land dig deep in the most phys­i­cal of semi­fi­nals in mid­week, a con­test that one or two Eng­land play­ers were pos­si­bly still feel­ing in their legs.

Eng­land had fan­cied their chances though. Their im­pres­sive win over New Zealand in Ro­torua this sum­mer was founded firmly on their for­ward strength and Eng­land were quick to em­ploy all that power in the open­ing ex­changes last night as they laid siege to the New Zealand line

The Ki­wis re­sisted ex­tremely well, win­ning the phys­i­cal ex­changes which rather set the tone for the evening and then struck first with a fine try from full-back Sel­ica Wini­ata who used her sprinter’s speed to latch onto a cross field kick from fly-half Vic­to­ria Subritzky-Nafa­tal. Wini­ata might have en­joyed the luck of the bounce but she still had Emily Scar­ratt to beat which she did in some style.

Scar­ratt, who had moved to full-back for the fi­nal af­ter the con­cus­sion to Danielle Water­man in the semi-fi­nal, twisted her left an­kle in at­tempt­ing the chal­lenge and needed some strap­ping be­fore she could con­tinue.

No se­ri­ous dam­age done, how­ever, and mo­ments later Scar­ratt was crash­ing her way down the right wing with a pow­er­ful surge be­fore she got Eng­land on the score­board with a sim­ple shot in front of the posts af­ter New Zealand strayed off­side in a ruck.

The ex­changes were in­tense, as you would ex­pect, but New Zealand flanker Sarah Goss over­cooked it in the 20th minute when she lifted Katy McLean off her feet in a com­plet­ing a big hit. It wasn't a shocker and McLean landed on her side but it was un­doubt­edly worth the yel­low card she re­ceived.

Eng­land im­me­di­ately upped the in­ten­sity as they looked to use their nu­mer­i­cal ad­van­tage. Alex Matthews forced her way over the line but couldn’t get the touch­down but from the re­sult­ing scrum Sarah Hunter con­trolled the ball su­perbly at her feet as Eng­land marched the scrum for­ward. The short­handed Kiwi scrum dis­in­te­grated and a penalty try and the au­to­matic con­ver­sion was Eng­land’s re­ward.

The force was with Eng­land and even the re­turn of Goss couldn’t stem the flow as the Red Roses streamed for­ward to stretch their lead fur­ther on the half hour with a crack­ing try

from right wing Ly­dia Thomp­son af­ter a de­light­ful break by Rachael Bur­ford. Kay Wil­son car­ried on the move and Katy McLean fired out a quick pass for Thomp­son who lasered in on the line. Scar­ratt added the ex­tras with a mag­nif­i­cent touch­line con­ver­sion.

At 17-5 up Eng­land were be­gin­ning to build a de­ci­sive lead and New Zealand needed to strike next, which they did just be­fore half-time when prop Toka Natua stretched to touch­down af­ter a pa­tient build up by the Ki­wis.

New Zealand were quick­est out of the blocks af­ter the break and Natua was soon on the score­sheet again when she ploughed over from short range af­ter the pow­er­ful SubritzkyNafa­tal had shown ex­cel­lent feet close to the line. Ken­dra Cocksedge added the rel­a­tively sim­ple con­ver­sion and sud­denly it was all level.

All to play for, and al­though Scar­ratt added a sec­ond penalty New Zealand fi­nally re­gained the lead when big Char­maine Smith had the pres­ence of mind to touch­down on the padding on the base of the post af­ter a pe­riod of in­tense Kiwi pres­sure. Back came Eng­land with a blaz­ing sec­ond try from Thomp­son who took flight down the right wing leav­ing even a known speed­ster like Por­tia Wood­man in her wake. Eng­land, for a mat­ter of sec­onds, were back in the lead but from the restart the re­mark­able Natua struck for her hat-trick try al­though per­haps there was the hint of a knock on when she went to ground en route and re­gath­ered her­self.

New Zealand, with their ex­cel­lent ball re­ten­tion, scarcely al­low­ing Eng­land a glimpse of the ball, then went for the jugu­lar and af­ter an­other in­tense bar­rage the alert scrum-half Cocksedge just man­aged to force her way over to put some day­light be­tween the two sides.

Deep into the fi­nal quar­ter and it was all one way traf­fic as New Zealand poured on the pres­sure and there was no way back af­ter Wini­ata scored in the cor­ner af­ter an­other cross­field kick had scored havoc in the Eng­land de­fence. A late Eng­land try by Izzy Noel Smith added a lit­tle gloss to their tally but there was never any hint of a mir­a­cle Eng­land come­back.

PIC­TURES: Getty Im­ages

We’ve done it: The Black Ferns show the tro­phy

Hope: Ly­dia Thomp­son scores Eng­land’s sec­ond try

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