Drouin misses last-gasp penalty as New Zealand book World Cup date with England

AUCKLAND, Nov 5 (Reuters) – France flyhalf Caroline Drouin missed a last-gasp penalty as defending champions New Zealand claimed a 25-24 classic at Eden Park on Saturday and set up a women’s Rugby World Cup final against England.

With a shot put in front after prop Santo Taumata was yellow carded for a high tackle, Drouin curled his last-minute kick to the left as the Black Ferns made a great escape in front of a crowd that roar

Down 17-10 at half-time, the hosts took the lead through tries to Ruby Tui and Theresa Fitzpatrick and were in a good position as France went a girl down with a yellow card for free forward Safi N’Diaye for another high tackle in the 70th minute. .

Eight Romane Menager scored a flurry of tries in a powerhouse display, pulling the French within a point with 14 minutes remaining.

But Drouin’s late month sealed their fate.

France inside center Gabrielle Vernier refused to blame Drouin, saying the team could have won earlier.

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“We are so proud of ourselves today,” he said.

“We should have been better throughout the game, we should have been better in defence.”

New Zealand, winners of five of the last six World Cups, meet England in a repeat of the 2017 final.

England held off Canada in a thrilling 26-19 match in the earlier semi-final at Eden Park. read more

“It was an unbelievable finish, to be honest,” New Zealand coach Wayne Smith said.

“I thought it was gone, but it wasn’t. It’s there and we have a chance next week.”

France have never reached the final of the World Cup and they will compete in the semi-final which came from them after they did the hard work early on.

New Zealand saw a ferocious, 17-step attack on their try line in the opening minutes but the pressure finally came when Menager crashed over at the left post in the 23rd minute.

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France’s defense was atrocious and Vernier was lucky not to draw a card after picking up winger Tui in a penalty.

France finally conceded after Drouin kicked the ball out on the full after half an hour giving New Zealand a scrum in front of the posts.

Fly Ruahei Demant threw the ball wide to Stacey Fluhler who streamed over near the left corner to fire up the crowd.

Full-back Renee Holmes’ conversion leveled the score at 10-10 but the French came again, with Vernier bursting over from the left post on the stroke of half-time.


The contest got underway as Holmes sent the French defense scrambling with a deft chip four minutes after the restart.

A human lightning bolt, Tui won a sprint against Emilie Boulard, pushed the ball out of the defender’s grasp and chased it down for a try just before the dead line.

Although Holmes missed the conversion and a penalty a few minutes later, the Black Ferns’ running game was now in top gear as the French tired.

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Roos lock Maiakawanakaulani carried the hosts to within two meters of their posts and Fitzpatrick touched over to give New Zealand the lead near the hour mark.

Demant scored the conversion and penalty to extend the lead to eight points but Menager produced a magnificent finish as she blasted through a nest of Black Ferns for her second try.

Further drama was to come as Taumata crashed into catcher Agathe Sochat, the high tackle, seen by the TV match official, right in front of the posts.

From about 30 meters out, Drouin’s shot went well, leaving France in agony as Black Ferns winger Kendra Cocksedge knocked the ball out and the home fans rejoiced.

Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Edited by Peter Rutherford

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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