ENGLAND’S women fell agonisingly short of lifting rugby’s World Cup last night.
They were relentlessly reeled in by New Zealand after leading 17-5 at one stage in the first half.
The Black Ferns overcame a first half yellow card to close the gap on England by half-time, and stepped up the pace after the break.
England’s match-day 22 featured seven players from Bristol including skipper Sarah Hunter.
Hunter had predicted England’s best performance would come in the final, saying form, rankings and past results would not count when the teams crossed the whitewash on Saturday.
And England had New Zealand under intense pressure throughout the first half after falling behind to a spectacular early wing try by Winiata.
Ferocious forward pressure brought a penalty try to overtake the Black Ferns, and then Lydia Thompson ran in a stunning score on the right wing to stretch the lead.
New Zealand’s second try shortly before the whis- tle heralded that irresistible second-half comeback, though high-intensity England made a real thriller of it in the third quarter, especially when Thompson scored a searing second shortly after Bristol’s Amber Reed replaced Burford.
But an outstanding New Zealand oozed pace, power and adventure to ease clear.
ENGLAND 32 NEW ZEALAND 41
England: E Scarratt (Lichfield); L Thompson (Worcester), M Jones (Bristol), R Burford (Harlequins), K Wilson (Richmond); K Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park), N Hunt (Lichfield); V Cornborough (Harlequins), A Cokayne (Lichfield), S Bern (Bristol), A Scott (Darlington Mowden Park), T Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park), A Matthews (Richmond), M Packer (Bristol), S Hunter (Bristol, capt).
Replacements: V Fleetwood (Saracens), R Clark (Worcester), J Lucas (Lichfield), H Millar-Mills (Lichfield), I Noel-Smith (Bristol), L Mason (Darlington Mowden Park), A Reed (Bristol), A Wilson Hardy (Bristol).