FINAL: New Zealand crowned world champions
By Duncan Wood
From Twickenham Stoop
England and New Zealand, the two best teams in the tournament,
went at it hammer and tongs for the full 80 minutes in the
Women's Rugby World Cup Final with the Black Ferns emerging
triumphant - just!
It was a magnificent achievement by New Zealand who clinched their fourth title with a narrow 13-10 win in front of a crowd of 13,253.
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The Black Ferns had to overcome three yellow cards as they continually tested the patience of the referee but their territorial dominance and incredible defence ensured a worthy win.
The passion was evident even before the kick off as England fronted up to the Black Ferns' pre match haka as the two teams met for the third consecutive World Cup Final.
From the off, New Zealand tore at England and only a superb one on one tackle from Danielle Waterman on Kelly Brazier halted the centre after a jinking run.
Pinned back in their own 22, the home side were indebted to some early New Zealand indiscipline to relieve pressure and were also let off the hook by an eighth minute penalty miss by Brazier.
New Zealand on top early on
It was all New Zealand in the opening 10 minutes. England were largely restricted to tackling duties and unable to hang onto possession when it did come their way. Emma Jensen's 14th minute penalty miss kept the game scoreless after another England transgression.
England had soaked up a huge amount of pressure in the opening quarter and rarely ventured into the Black Ferns' half but were still on level terms and helped when veteran New Zealand fly half Anna Richards was sin binned for not rolling away. However Katy McLean couldn't capitalise for England when her first penalty effort drifted just wide.
The penalty count continued to rise against New Zealand as England finally got some ball to work with and it was no surprise when prop Mel Bosman was also yellow carded.
However, despite their numerical disadvantage, the Black Ferns struck first when tournament sensation Carla Hohepa just evaded Rachael Burford and stepped Amy Turner to score the game's first try. Brazier converted for 7-0.
It was a huge blow for England and compounded when McLean hit the upright with a penalty attempt with the last kick of the half to make the half time score 7-0 to New Zealand.
England needed to start the second half well and the chance promptly came as the Black Ferns conceded yet another penalty and McLean opened England's account.
The game was opening up and Hohepa so nearly added a second try when she pounced on an England turnover but lock Joanna McGilchrist produced the cover tackle of the tournament.
As the tension grew, Brazier's second penalty opened up a 10-3 lead for the Black Ferns, but they lost their skipper Melissa Ruscoe to yet another yellow card.
The game was on the line as England opted to scrummage from the penalty and, after great work from the pack, the ball was popped onto the blindside for Charlotte Barras to score her fourth try of the tournament. McLean nailed a superb conversion to level the scores.
The Black Ferns aren't the reigning champions for nothing, however, as they forced a penalty in the England 22 and Brazier kept her nerve to make it 13-10.
Time was now against England. They gave it everything but they were playing from deep and the New Zealand defence was just too good.
POST MATCH REACTION
New Zealand coach Brian Evans: "Very special
indeed; it's awesome, a great feeling.
"It's been brilliant. I think the English have done an awesome job. The tournament's been really good - the crowds at Surrey Sports Park - and now it's been great here. It's been a huge success."
On the secret behind their success: "They're incredible people first and foremost. They get together and they pass on knowledge and they enjoy themselves - that's the biggest thing I notice. It's interesting watching how much fun the Black Ferns have. Winning helps that but I think they create that for themselves anyway.
"It's fantastic; I guess some of those players will move on now, but there's a new crop already who are ready to take it up."
New Zealand captain Melissa Ruscoe: "It doesn't quite feel real, but it's an unbelievable feeling.
On being down to 13 and 14 players: "It was massive and that doesn't come down to fitness, it doesn't come down to how much you do down the gym - that comes down to pride and passion and the jersey that you are wearing. The girls just put their whole heart into it and got us through the game.
"It's a patience game and rugby is a game of 80 minutes and it certainly went the full distance tonight. We knew if we could just get back down their end, no one has scored on us from their own 22, so we were happy."
New Zealand match-winner Kelly Brazier: "I
was pretty nervous [with the penalty at 10-10]. The crowd were
making a lot of noise. I just thought of it as another kick and
thankfully it went straight through the posts. Relief, but
obviously there was still a bit of time on the clock so I knew it
wasn't over yet."
On New Zealand winning four World Cups in a row: "It's pretty big; not many places can say they've been to four World Cups and won all four, so it's pretty big for Women's Rugby in New Zealand."
New Zealand wing Carla Hohepa, the IRB Women's Personality of the Year 2010: "Awesome, like I said earlier, it is definitely a team award. Everyone has put 100% in and it showed out there today. I can't take all the credit for it but an awesome honour. It was such a hard game out there and it shows the pride that we all feel winning this World Cup because it was such a close game it could have gone any way."
New Zealand full back Victoria Grant: "I
can't explain it, I am so happy right now. Just a real proud
moment for all the sacrifice that we have done and for our family
"I don't even remember most of it. It felt so good that the kick went over, we told her (Kelly Brazier) to take her time and she did it well. For us, we don't have much funding, but it is such a good feeling to be able to do this against England on their turf, with all the support behind them - that made it even better for us."
New Zealand fly half Anna Richards: "It feels awesome, it feels kind of surreal. It was an awesome atmosphere tonight and kind of a strange game with all the sin-binnings. It was a weird game actually, but nice to come out on top.
"It definitely ebbed and flowed. I thought we had the better first 15 or 20 and then England came back when we had a couple of sin-binnings. It was a real ebb and flow game; a real typical final."
On the key to victory: "Our composure, especially when we were down to 14 and 13 at some stages, and we believed in ourselves."
On winning her fourth World Cup: "It feels really good. I am tired but it is kind of surreal, I will believe it later but I am really happy. This one is exactly the same, it doesn't get any better - it's the best."
New Zealand second row Monalisa Codling, a four-time world
champion: "Very, Very happy; it was a bit nervous for
a while, but the girls looked good and I'm glad they came
through for us.
"At the end of the day, they just put everything into it and I think we dominated the game, showed the flair and it was great for Women's Rugby, and in the end great for New Zealand rugby."
New Zealand Rugby Union Chief Executive Steve Tew (via NZRU
release): "The Black Ferns have an extraordinary
record at this tournament and have definitely stamped their mark on
world rugby, while also becoming one of New Zealand's most
successful sporting teams.
"We are all extremely proud of them and the efforts and sacrifices they have made to win this tournament and they showed such character and composure throughout the match, at one point playing with only 13 players, against what was a very strong England side."
England captain Catherine Spencer: "We came here to win and we got three points close to it and didn't quite get there in the end. Very gutted, but still proud of the girls here today and I think we can look back in a few months time and be really proud of what we have achieved over the last couple of years.
"When we brought it back I really thought we were going to get it over the line. Our defence was outstanding, but all credit to New Zealand they do it time and time again and they are just tremendously talented."
England flanker Maggie Alphonsi: "It is
heartbreaking. We have worked for four years to achieve this and to
come out with a loss is hard work. But I have to look at the game,
it was a great game of rugby and advert for Women's Rugby. At
the end of this tournament if you look at it we have got so many
spectators who have seen some great women's rugby and hopefully
we will get more girls taking up the sport.
"New Zealand were great, they played really well today. Our English girls played awesome as well but unfortunately the best team won on the day, but in four years time we will be back.
"Our defence was amazing, it was solid, the breakdown was really good, and just a few penalties that killed us a little bit. But I take my hat off to our English girls we were fantastic, dug in from the start and we chased every person down. Gutted but at the same time I am proud of my girls and the tournament itself.
England coach Gary Street: "We couldn't get enough ball, the breakdown was problematic all day. A few shenanigans at the breakdown, but they dealt with it better. It could have gone either way at the end, but I'm really proud of the girls.
"It's disappointing the score, but look what we've done for Women's Rugby - a packed house here today and I think we've changed the face forever.
"I thought we were going to push on from that [drawing level], but their bit of know-how from winning three World Cups in a row came in and they snuck it at the end."
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset: "It was a fantastic final between the two top women's teams in the game, England and New Zealand. It was very close, and in the end the results benefit the Black Ferns.
"It was a fantastic event to end this Women's Rugby World Cup. It was high quality and it's fantastic for the future of Women's Rugby.
"The physicality of the game is more than in the past, it's very physical, very technical, fast and speedy. It's a very strong competition now. Women's Rugby is a high performance sport and I'm sure we will be presenting new teams around the world, promoting more women players in the world.
"I would like to congratulate the Rugby Football Union and the Rugby Football Union for Women. The tournament was successful with big crowds, and it's fantastic to see The Stoop totally full for the final - it was an incredible moment for the fans who have supported Women's Rugby."
IRB Vice Chairman Bill Beaumont: "It was a
tough game of rugby for both teams, it could have gone either way.
But I think New Zealand, they deserved it, at the end of the day
they had more territory and possession and used it better than
"I think the last two weeks has really lifted the profile of the Women's Game and I think the Olympics now having women's Sevens in it, it will do nothing but grow the game."