The Kiwi Ferns went down to the classy Australian Jillaroos 23-16 in the 2017 Women’s Rugby League World Cup final on Saturday afternoon in Brisbane. (Photo: NRLPhotos).
A double to Isabelle Kelly and the accurate boot of Caitlin Moran did much of the damage, as the Jillaroos secured their second-consecutive World Cup title.
The Kiwi Ferns dominated the first half but couldn’t execute in attacking territory, and backed it up with some soft efforts in defence which saw Australia cross in simple fashion on a couple of occasions.
Kelly opened the scoring on eight minutes, before a wonderful looping pass from Raecene McGregor – who was a shock starter in the No.6 jersey ahead of vice captain Georgia Hale – laid on the opening try for Honey Hireme, and less than 10 minutes later the veteran wing grabbed her second off a scrum set piece to give the visitors the lead.
After bossing possession and try-scoring opportunities, the Kiwi Ferns then cracked at the first sight of pressure, with Moran dancing through for a converted try which gave Australia a 12-10 lead at the break.
New Zealand enjoyed a couple of scoring chances early in the second, but were made to pay for a horror 10-minute spell, with Kelly going over for her second, before Elianna Walton smashed over to make it 22-10 with 20 to go.
The Kiwi Ferns were getting into desperation territory with 10 remaining, and found a result after some second phase which sent McGregor over, reducing the deficit to six.
There were chances to win it in the closing exchanges, but key errors from the tiring Ferns meant they couldn’t generate the pressure required, with a field goal from Moran inside the final minute sealing back-to-back world titles.
Australian Jillaroos 23 (Isabelle Kelly x2, Caitlin Moran, Elianna Walton tries; Caitlin Moran 3 goals; Caitlin Moran 1 field goal) def. New Zealand Kiwi Ferns 16 (Honey Hireme x2, Raecene McGregor tries; Kimiora Nati 2 goals). HT: 12-10. At Suncorp Stadium