Black Ferns are RWC2021 Champs
Stacey Fluhler boasts a smile that could melt margarine. A try she scored to help the Black Ferns Sevens win the Olympic final against France in Tokyo last year became an iconic image. Unfortunately, nobody was inside the stadium to see it.
A year later in front of a world record crowd for a women’s rugby international of 42,379 at Eden Park, Fluhler grinned gloriously again. In the 73rd minute she threw an improbable offload from the ground to wing Ayesha Leti-I’iga to put the Black Ferns ahead 34-31 in the pulsating Rugby World Cup decider.
Fluhler's game was finished by a try that needed such exceptional bravery and skill, yet she was still cheerful as she was assisted from the field and cheered to the sidelines by the jubilant home fans.
Mahi was still needed on defense, but Fluhler's smile and the hosts' backbone were impenetrable. In the game's final play, England's infamous rolling maul was finally stopped, and the Black Ferns won.
The Black Ferns were defeated 14-0 earlier in the match by England after tries from Ellie Kildunne and Amy Cokayne.
Lydia Thompson sprinted across the field in the seventeenth minute to thwart a Portia Woodman break down the sideline. Unfortunately, the tackler Thompson was sent off after their heads collided. In the 2017 World Cup championship match against the Black Ferns, Thompson scored two tries.
With the exception of sporadic Black Fern breakouts, the game quickly adopted a restart, regression, and rumbling pattern.
The rolling maul of the Red Roses was unstoppable. Georgia Ponsonby's maiden try for the Black Ferns came off a rolling maul, which was ironic. For England, Marlie Packer gave the same response.
Amy Rule and Cokayne exchanged rolling maul attempts before Leti-I'iga discovered a rare opening on the wings, but only after a rolling maul. The deficit of seven points at halftime, which matched the margin of victory in the 2017 World Cup final, belonged to England, 26-19. With 13 total wins, no team lost a lineout in the first half.
At the beginning of the second spell, Fluhler sparkled with a break from the 22 linking with fellow Gisborne girl Renee Holmes before regaining it, 24-26.
Prop Krystal Murray gave the Black Ferns a 29-26 lead, but Cokayne later scored three times in a row to give England a 31-29 victory over the Black Ferns.
The Red Roses had a golden opportunity after Kennedy Simon received a yellow card in the 64th minute, but the Black Ferns maintained composure to halt England's world-record streak of 30 straight test victories.
England defeated the Black Ferns 56-15 on November 7, 2021.
The Black Ferns, also known as Ng Mamaku o Aotearoa, declared: "We shall assemble and join. Strength in numbers. It'll be completed.
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