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

AUCKLAND, Nov 5 (Reuters) – France flyhalf Caroline Drouin missed a late penalty as defending champions New Zealand scored a classic 25-24 win at Eden Park on Saturday to set up a blockbuster Women’s Rugby World Cup final against England.

With a shot forward after prop Santo Taumata was yellow carded for a high tackle, Drouin shocked his last-minute kick as the Black Ferns pulled off a great escape in front of a roaring crowd.

Trailing 17-10 at half-time, the hosts took the lead through tries from Ruby Tui and Theresa Fitzpatrick and were well placed in the 70th minute when loose forward Safi N’Diague went down with a yellow card for another high tackle. .

The eighth-ranked Roman manager scored a brace of tries in a powerhouse display, pulling the French within a point with 14 minutes remaining.

But Drouin’s late miss sealed his luck.

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

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

“We had to be better all game, we had to be better in defense.”

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

England beat Canada 26-19 in the semi-final at Eden Park. Read more

“It’s a really unbelievable finish,” New Zealand coach Wayne Smith said.

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

France have never been to a World Cup decider and they’ve put in the hard work to beat a semi-final that eludes them.

New Zealand saw a furious, 17-point assault on their try-line in the opening minutes but the pressure finally told when the manager crashed the left post in the 23rd minute.

The French defense was atrocious and Vernier was lucky not to draw a card after lifting winger Tui in a punishing tackle.

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France finally conceded after half an hour when Drouin cleared the ball full, giving New Zealand a scrum in front of the posts.

Flyhalf Ruahe Demont threw the ball to wide Stacey Fluhler, who streamed in near the left corner to set the crowd on fire.

Fullback Renee Holmes’ conversion leveled the match at 10-10 but the French came again, Vernier bursting off the left post on the stroke of half-time.

French distress

Four minutes after the re-start, Holmes sent the French defense ahead with a deft chip to level the match.

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

Despite a Holmes conversion and missing a long-range penalty minutes later, the Black Ferns’ running game was now in top gear as the French tired.

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Lock Maikawanakaulani Roos took the hosts to within two meters of their posts and Fitzpatrick stepped up to steal New Zealand’s lead near the hour mark.

Dimont converted and a penalty to extend the lead to eight points but the manager set up a grandstand finish as he pounded through a nest of black ferns for his second try.

Further drama was to come when a Taumata hooker crashed into Agathe Sochat, a high tackle spotted by the television match official directly in front of the posts.

From about 30 metres, Drouin’s shot went well wide, leaving France in agony as Black Ferns scrumhalf Kendra Coxedge booted the ball over and the home fans rejoiced.

Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Edited by Peter Rutherford

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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