Australia retain Women’s Rugby League World Cup after thrashing New Zealand
Australia’s Jillaroos sauntered to a third consecutive Women’s Rugby League World Cup courtesy of a commanding, one-sided victory over New Zealand’s Kiwi Ferns.
The two sides delivered the game of the tournament in the group stages, with Australia edging their opponents 10-8 to finish top of Group B. But the reigning world champions made a mockery of the suggestion this would be a closely contested final with a resounding victory at Old Trafford. Leading 20-0 at half-time courtesy of four outstanding tries, New Zealand, who beat hosts England in their semi-final on Monday night in York, could not muster a response and were ultimately well beaten.
It means that Australia’s dominance of the women’s game continues, with the nature of the victory suggesting that the gulf between themselves and the chasing pack is getting even bigger. That is in no small part down to Australia’s domestic competition, the NRLW, which has gone from strength to strength thanks to increasing funding and a faster journey towards professionalism.
In contrast, not a single club in England’s Women’s Super League paid its players this year, which will at least change in 2023 thanks to Leeds Rhinos. But for England and other nations to keep pace with Australia, they will have to move fast thanks to the sweeping dominance Australia are imposing on the international game. This was their third straight World Cup win, and on this basis, it is difficult to see any nation stopping them from a fourth in France in 2025.
Led by the outstanding Ali Brigginshaw, it took Australia just six minutes to break the deadlock as Jessica Sergis powered over the top of the New Zealand defence. Brigginshaw was then instrumental in the passage of play which sent Isabelle Kelly over for Australia’s second, before Brigginshaw’s kick found Julia Robinson unmarked to make it 14-0.
Kelly’s second, which made it 20-0 at the break, felt like it had put the result beyond doubt even at such an early stage. Further tries from Emma Tonegato, Tarryn Aiken and another for Sergis then made sure it would be Australia’s day, before the Kiwi Ferns at least avoided the ignominy of being nilled courtesy of Madison Bartlett’s consolation.
However the Jillaroos rounded off the scoring with a double from Kennedy Cherrington bringing up the 50-point mark, then Evania Pelite notching the final try to put an exclamation mark on their dominance of women’s rugby league.