Kiwi Ferns thrashed in World Cup final

Australia's Evania Pelite goes over to score their 10th try against New Zealand at Old Trafford in Manchester. Photo: Getty Images
Australia's Evania Pelite goes over to score their 10th try against New Zealand at Old Trafford in Manchester. Photo: Getty Images
The Kiwi Ferns’ World Cup dreams turned into a nightmare on Sunday, as they were smashed 54-4 by Australia in the final at Old Trafford.

It was the most one-sided decider since 2003, as the Jillaroos scored 10 tries, accelerating away savagely in the second half after leading 20-0 at the break.

It’s the third consecutive world crown for Australia, after New Zealand won titles in 2000, 2003 and 2008.

The Ferns held Australia to three tries in the first 35 minutes, before the match became a procession after the interval. The result will be a shock to many, especially after Australia only edged their group game 10-8.

But the Jillaroos were perfect at Old Trafford – composed, calm and clinical – while the Ferns couldn’t make the most of their opportunities in the first half, which could have made the game closer for longer.

Australia’s dominance was reflected in the statistics, with line breaks (11-2), tackle busts (55-17), post contact metres (652-367) and missed tackles (17-56).

Their win was built on a relentless defence, as the Ferns spent most of the match pinned in their own half.

The tournament schedule was also a factor, as New Zealand tried to peak for the third time in 10 days, while Australia had the luxury of seven fresh players for the final.

It was a curious format, with the trans-Tasman teams paired in the same pool. In the end, the Ferns didn’t have much left for the decider.

Australia were smart too, sending constant traffic down the Ferns’ right edge, which drained the effectiveness of Raecene McGregor, Amber Hall and Mele Hufanga on attack.

Australia made the perfect start, with a fifth minute try to Jess Sergis, who barrelled through two defenders on the right edge. It was a product of a timely six again call – on the last tackle – which created more pressure.

A Krystal Rota break finally gave the Ferns some territory but they couldn’t find an end product. Ali Brigginshaw then cut through the Ferns line, before Isabelle Kelly crossed down the left flank.

The game slowly settled into a rhythm, but Australia always looked more likely.

Raecene McGregor went close with a show and go, then the half turned on two plays. New Zealand coughed up possession in a rare chance on Australia’s line, before the Jillaroos scored on the next set, as a Brigginshaw fifth tackle kick bounced nicely for Julia Robinson, though her opposite Madison Bartlett should have done better in the tackle.

Australia put the stamp on their first half dominance in the 35th minute, when Kelly forced her way over again – after a quick switch of play – to give the Jillaroos a seemingly unassailable lead.

Any chance of an unlikely New Zealand comeback were extinguished in the 49th minute, when Emma Tonegato split the defence down the middle, after running off an inside ball from Brigginshaw.

That left New Zealand playing for pride, which was dented further when Sergis crossed three minutes later, before Tarryn Aiken extended the margin after a long range break.

The Ferns got on the board in the 64th minute, after a Hall offload and a McGregor cut out pass created space, with Bartlett finishing in the corner.

Australian interchange forward Kennedy Cherrington rubbed further salt into the wound with two late tries.

It got a bit embarrassing towards the end, as Evania Pelite shrugged off four defenders to score, though the Ferns simply had nothing left.

Australia 54 (Jess Sergis 2, Isabelle Kelly 2, Julia Robinson, Emma Tonegato, Tarryn Aitken, Kennedy Cherrington 2, Evania Pelite tries Ali Brigginshaw 2, Lauren Brown 5 cons), Kiwi Ferns 4 (Madison Bartlett try). Halftime 20-0.