ENGLAND 32 NEW ZEALAND 41
New Zealand wrecked England’s hopes of retaining the Women’s Rugby World Cup in a pulsating final at Belfast’s Kingspan Stadium. on Saturday night
The Red Roses had high hopes of keeping an unforgettable summer of English women’s sport in full bloom, following cricket World Cup success, a European Championship semi-final appearance by England’s footballers and Johanna Konta becoming the first British women’s singles semi-finalist since 1978.
But it was not to be as the Black Ferns overturned a seven-point interval deficit to triumph 41-32.
Prop Toka Natua led the way, scoring a hat-trick of tries, while there were also touchdowns for full-back Selica Winiata (two), lock Charmaine Smith and scrum-half Kendra Cocksedge, with Cocksedge adding three conversions.
Wing Lydia Thompson scored two tries for England, in addition to a seven-point penalty try, plus a late Izzy Noel-Smith touchdown, and full-back Emily Scarratt booted two penalties and two conversions, yet New Zealand were not to be denied a fifth world title.
Some England players now face an uncertain future - Rugby Foootball Union policy means that existing 15-a-side contracts will switch to sevens for the next two years - but such debate is for another day.
England gave it everything, but they had no answer in the second half, conceding 31 points as New Zealand’s superior pace and power left them reeling.
Both teams went into the final with unbeaten records, winning all three of their pool games prior to the semi-finals,
Earlier at the home of Ulster Rugby, hosts Ireland lost 27-17 to Wales in the seventh place final while France picked up bronze with a 31-23 win over the United States.