Rugby World Cup: New Zealand hold off France 25-24 to set up final against England

New Zealand will be facing England in the Rugby World Cup final
New Zealand will be facing England in the Rugby World Cup final
©World Rugby

New Zealand 25-24 France, Eden Park, Auckland

New Zealand staged a second half comeback as they edged out France 25-24 in the World Cup semi-final at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday.

The Black Ferns will now face England, who are on a 30-game winning streak in the final to be played in Auckland on 12th November. The win was greatly aided with Caroline Drouin missing a penalty chance in the closing stage of the game after Santo Taumata was sin-binned.

Caroline Drouin started the proceedings for France in the 7th minute as Ruby Tui was penalised for offside and Caroline Drouin kicked a penalty goal to make it 0-3. They further extended the lead further as Romane Menager crashed over overcoming New Zealand defence for the opening try of the game and Drouin landed the conversion to make it 0-10.

As the half-hour was approaching, New Zealand finally got off the mark as Annaelle Deshaye was penalised for a knock on and Renee Holmes kicked a three-pointer to bring down the deficit to seven points.

The scores were levelled in the 35th minute as New Zealand won a scrum penalty and Cocksedge led their charge with eventually Stacey Fluhler going over the line. Holmes followed with the conversion to make it 10-10.

Nevertheless, France seized the lead back at the stroke of half time as Gabrielle Vernier powered her way over and Drouin added the extras to make it 10-17 at the end of the opening half.

New Zealand were the quickest to get off the block in the second half as Portia Woodman kicked through the defence of France and Tui dives over the line but Holmes missed out on the conversion to make it 15-17.

The home side further stepped up the attack as France tried to slow down a New Zealand maul and Theresa Fitzpatrick crashed over the line and Demant kicked the extras and followed with a penalty goal to make it 25-17.

However, France made a strong fightback as France put the diving maul in use at the end of which Menager completed her second in the 65th minute with Drouin's conversion making the scoreline 25-24. The start of the final 10 minutes saw France's Lindelauf getting injured and shortly Safi N'Diaye was sin-binned for a shoulder to head tackle on Taumata.

Even though the Black Ferns, managed to keep France down, they suffered a scare in the 79th minute with Taumata yellow carded for a dangerous tackle on Sochat and the visitors had a penalty chance to seize the game but Drouin missed it much to the heartbreak of France as they succumbed to a one-point defeat.

Team line up:

New Zealand starting XV: Renee Holmes; Ruby Tui, Stacey Fluhler, Theresa Fitzpatrick, Portia Woodman; Ruahei Demant, Kendra Cocksedge; Phillipa Love, Georgia Ponsonby, Amy Rule, Maiakawanakaukani Roos, Chelsea Bremner, Alana Bremner, Sarah Hirini, Liana Mikaele-Tu’u.

Reserves: Luka Connor, Krystal Murray, Santo Taumata, Joanah Ngan-Woo, Kennedy Simon, Ariana Bayler, Hazel Tubic, Ayesha Leti-I’iga

France starting XV: Emilie Boulard; Joanna Grisez, Maëlle Filopon, Gabrielle Vernier Marine Ménager; Caroline Drouin, Pauline Bourdon; Annaëlle Deshaye, Agathe Sochat, Clara Joyeux, Céline Ferer, Madoussou Fall, Gaëlle Hermet (captain), Charlotte Escudero, Romane Ménager.

Reserves: Célia Domain, Coco Lindelauf, Assia Khalfaoui, Safi N’Diaye, Marjorie Mayans, Alexandra Chambon, Lina Queyroi, Chloé Jacquet