Kiwis triumph after Rae raises hopes

England 9 New Zealand 19
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The Independent Online

England fell at the ultimate hurdle in the Women's Rugby World Cup yesterday when they lost the final to the defending champions, New Zealand, in Barcelona's Olympic Stadium.

England fell at the ultimate hurdle in the Women's Rugby World Cup yesterday when they lost the final to the defending champions, New Zealand, in Barcelona's Olympic Stadium.

However, the game was much harder-fought than the Black Ferns' eventual margin of victory, 19-9, suggests. Shelley Rae's kicking kept the runners-up in contention throughout a tight first half, but New Zealand eventually eased clear with tries from Monique Hirovanaa and Cheryl Waaka.

Rae cancelled out two Tammi Wilson penalties with one of her own plus her first drop goal of the tournament before adding a second penalty to edge England 9-6 ahead.

But Hirovanaa put the Kiwis back in front when she spotted a gap after 33 minutes and crossed to give her side an 11-9 half-time lead.

Waaka extended that advantage to seven points when she breached the English defence six minutes after the restart, and the Black Ferns managed to hold on for the rest of the second half despite the sin-binning of Victoria Heighway. Hannah Myers, a replacement, sealed New Zealand's triumph in this 16-team, two-week tournament when she added a penalty in injury time.

France, beaten 30-0 by the Kiwis in their semi-final, bounced back to hammer Canada 41-7 in the third-place match. The French helped themselves to four first-half tries, including a pair from centre Nathalie Amiel, en route to a 24-0 interval lead.

In the second half, the prop Dalphine Plantet went over for her second try of the day and the French were only denied a clean-sheet victory when the Canadian centre Julie Foster touched down and Kelly McCallum supplied the conversion.

France completed the scoring in the 71st minute when their No 8, Clotilde Flaugère, claimed their sixth try. Estelle Sardini added the conversion to swell her points total to 11 for the match.

Scotland had to be content with sixth place after they were routed 30-0 in their closing game by Australia. Charmain Smith, a wing, ran in a brace of first-half tries as the Wallaroos built a 13-0 half-time lead, and there were further touchdowns after the break from centre Sharon O'Kane and flanker Selena Worsley. The rest of Australia's points came via the boot of Tui Ormsby, who kicked two penalties and two conversions.

Had they not run into a rampant New Zealand line-up at the quarter-final stage last weekend, the Australians might well have finished higher in the overall pecking order than fifth.

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