Australia retain Women’s Rugby World Cup after beating New Zealand | Women’s Rugby World Cup

Australia’s Jillaroos qualified for a third consecutive Women’s Rugby World Cup with a one-sided victory over New Zealand’s Kiwi Ferns.

The two sides delivered the tournament match in the group stage, with Australia edging their opponents 10-8 to finish top of Group B. But the reigning world champions scoffed at the suggestion it would be a very contested with a resounding victory at Old Trafford. Leading 20-0 at half-time thanks to four outstanding tries, New Zealand, who beat England in the semi-final on Monday night in York, could not react and were eventually well beaten.

It means Australia’s dominance of the women’s game continues, with the nature of the win suggesting the rift between them and the chasing pack is getting even wider. This is largely due to Australia’s national competition, the NRLW, which has gone from strength to strength with growing funding and a faster route to professionalism.

By contrast, not a single club in the English Women’s Super League has paid their players this year, which will change at least in 2023 thanks to the Leeds Rhinos. But for England and other nations to keep pace with Australia, they will have to move fast thanks to the overwhelming dominance Australia imposes on the international game. It was their third straight World Cup win, and based on that it’s hard to see any nation preventing them from a fourth in France in 2025.

Aussie players embrace after Jessica Sergis scores one of her two tries. Photography: Tim Goode/EPA

Led by the excellent Ali Brigginshaw, it took Australia just six minutes to break the deadlock as Jessica Sergis got the better of the New Zealand defence. Brigginshaw was then instrumental in passing play that sent Isabelle Kelly for Australia’s second place, before Brigginshaw’s spot kick found Julia Robinson unmarked to make it 14-0.

Kelly’s second, who made it 20-0 at the break, felt like he had put the result beyond doubt even at such an early stage. Further tries from Emma Tonegato, Tarryn Aiken and another for Sergis then ensured it would be Australia Day, before the Kiwi Ferns at least avoided the ignominy of being knocked out thanks to the consolation of Madison Bartlett.

However, the Jillaroos completed the scoring with a Kennedy Cherrington brace to take the 50-point mark and then Evania Pelite scored the final try to put an exclamation mark on their dominance of women’s rugby league.

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