End of era for Kiwi Ferns

Australia has ended the Kiwi Ferns' era of supermacy with a 22-12 win in the 2013 women's Rugby League World Cup final at Headingley in Leeds. Photo: PHOTOSPORT


Going into the final it was obvious the Jillaroos, who lost to the Kiwi Ferns 6-14 in pool play, had closed the gap on New Zealands three-times reigning champion team.


But it remained to be seen what would happen in the heat and there was plenty of that in sunny Leeds of the final. The answer was a polished four tries to three victory to the Australiams.


"The Australians played better as a team, said Kiwi Ferns coach Lynley Tierney-Mani.


They had patience and composure and they deserved the win. Our set completion wasnt great and they kept wearing us down. They chased us and they caught us.


Our heads are held high, though. Everyone gave everything both the players, including those that didnt play today, and the staff. It was a real gutsy effort and Im very proud of them all.


The match concluded a big last few weeks for the New Zealand captain Honey Hireme. She scored seven tries in the tournament, after flying straight to the UK from Moscow, where shed won a rugby union sevens world title for New Zealand.


We were in it until late in the match, said Hireme.


But we made more mistakes than we could afford and they played 80 minutes. We're absolutely gutted, but the girls are aware theyve done their families proud and so have the Australians. The Aussies are ecstatic right now and good on them. They have had some tough losses before and now is their moment.


The Kiwi Ferns did plenty to give their vocal supporters at Headingley hope for a fourth World Cup win and they led at three different stages of the game. Their hooker Sharnita Woodman got things started with a try from dummy-half not long after kick-off. The Australians hit back quickly though to level the scores at 4-4.


The Kiwi girls pulled away when Charlotte Scanlan scored midway through the first half. But, as they can be inclined to do, Australia scored again to make it 8-8 just before the break.


In the second half, the Kiwis took the lead for a third time when Aimee Gilbert crossed after a sustained period of attack. With the conversion again missed, the Kiwi Ferns were up 12-8. But two further Australian tries, along with a penalty, secured Australia a first ever womens World Cup title.


Kiwi Ferns 12 (Sharnita Woodman, Charlotte Scanlan, Aimee Gilbert tries).

Jillaroos 22 (Jenni Sue Hoepper, Tarah Westera, Samantha Hammond, Heather Ballinger tries Ali Briggenshaw 3 goals).

Halftime: 8-8.


Kiwi Ferns: 1. Sarina Fiso, 2. Geneva Webber, 3. Honey Hireme (Captain), 4. Lisa Campbell, 5. Karley Te Kawa, 6. Nora Maaka, 7. Rona Peters, 8. Charlotte Scanlan, 9. Sharnita Woodman, 10. Ana Tuia Pereira, 11. Kathleen Keremete, 12. Akenese Pereira, 13. Kahurangi Peters, 14. Kelly Maipi, 15. Simone Panapa, 16. Aimee Gilbert, 17. Amber Paris Hall, 18. Brenda Collins


WOMENS RUGBY LEAGUE WORLD CUP FINALS:


2000 Kiwi Ferns 26, Great Britain 4

2003 Kiwi Ferns 58, New Zealand Maori 0

2008 Kiwi Ferns 34, Australia 0

2013 Australia 22 Kiwi Ferns 12


Note: New Zealand's Armed Forces team went down 22-32 to Australia in its Festival of World Cups final over the weekend, while the New Zealand Students lost 17-18 to England in an extra time thriller in their semi-final.