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

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

With a shot in front after Santo Taumata was booked for a classy tackle, Drouin turned his last-minute strike to the left as the Black Ferns made a huge run in front of a roaring crowd.

Trailing 17-10 at half-time, the hosts took the lead with tries from Ruby Tui and Theresa Fitzpatrick and France were well placed to go down a woman with a yellow card for free-forward Safi N’Diaye in the 70th minute for another high tackle. .

Number eight Romane Menager scored plenty in a strong display to put the French behind by a point with 14 minutes remaining.

But Drouin’s late dismissal 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 proud of us today,” he said.

“We had to be better the whole game, we had to be better defensively.”

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

England had earlier defeated lively Canada 26-19 in the semi-final at Eden Park. read more

“It was a really incredible finish,” New Zealand coach Wayne Smith said.

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

France have never been a World Cup decider and will regret the semi-final that got away from them after doing the hard work early on.

New Zealand saw a ferocious, 17-phase attack on the try line in the opening minutes, but the pressure was finally on as Menager hit the left post in the 23rd minute.

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

France finally gave New Zealand the nod in front of the posts after Drouin put the ball just wide after the half-hour stoppage time.

Flyhalf Ruahei Demant chipped the ball away to Stacey Fluhler, who crossed near the left corner to fire up the crowd.

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

THE FRENCH AGONY

Four minutes after the restart, the match went up a notch as Holmes broke through the French defense with a deft chip.

Human thunderbolt Tui won a sprint against Emilie Boulard, took the ball out of the defender’s hands and chased her down for a try just short of the dead ball line.

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Although Holmes missed the conversion and a long-range penalty minutes later, the Black Ferns’ running game was now on a high as the French tired.

Lock Maiakawanakaulani Roos put the hosts two meters wide of their posts and Fitzpatrick gave New Zealand the lead near the hour mark.

Demant converted and kicked a penalty to extend the lead to eight points, but Menager beat the Black Ferns slot for his second try to claim a grandstand finish.

Further drama would follow when Taumata collided with prostitute Agathe Sochat, who was seen by the TV match official directly in front of the posts.

Drouin’s shot from around 30 yards was well over, leaving France in agony as Black Ferns midfielder Kendra Coxedge cleared the ball and the home fans rejoiced.

Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Edited by Peter Rutherford

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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