Rugby: NZ women crush France to reach final

New Zealand produced a clinical performance to comfortably despatch France and duly book their place in the women's rugby World Cup final in London today.

The three-time defending champions won the semifinal 45-7 at Twickenham Stoop after being made to work hard to gain the ascendancy against a dogged French side in the first quarter.

However, once New Zealand took a grip of the game, there was only going to be one result with the Black Ferns outside backs showing their class throughout.

The New Zealanders were quickly into their stride, with their outside backs confident and skilful enough to attack from deep.

Number eight Casey Robertson was denied an opening try when she was bundled into touch in the corner while wing Renee Wickliffe's searing break was only halted by a despairing last ditch tackle.

But the other wing Carla Hohepa was too quick and strong in the ninth minute when she shrugged off her opposite number before a superb in and out move left the fullback stranded.

However, the French settled into the game and pressured New Zealand wherever possible, forcing the Black Ferns into a number of uncharacteristic errors during the first quarter.

But it was the Black Ferns who struck next when hooker Fiao'o Fa'amausili showed great pace as she broke down the left and France were unable to regroup as the ball was switched wide where Victoria Grant crossed untouched.

A third try quickly followed as Hohepa sliced open the French midfield defence coming in off her wing before finding Huriana Manuel who went in under the crossbar.

New Zealand were beginning to create space out wide and it was no surprise when Wickliffe dived over for the fourth try, swiftly followed by Hohepa's sixth of the tournament.

France had the final word of the first half as powerful work from the pack resulted in a try for Laetitia Salles.

New Zealand reasserted themselves after the restart when 45-year-old first five-eighth Anna Richards finished off a break from Victoria Grant.

They were then held at bay until the 66th minute when Joan Sione touched down after a catch and drive.

New Zealand will meet either England or Australia in the final on Monday morning (NZT).

New Zealand 45 (Carla Hohepa 2, Victoria Grant, Huriana Manuel, Renee Wickliffe, Anna Richards, Joan Sione tries; Kelly Brazier 4 con, Emma Jensen con) France 7 (Laetitia Salles try; Aurelie Bailon con). Halftime; 31-7.

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