Australia retain World Cup crown with huge win over New Zealand in women’s final

Australia ran in 10 tries as they retained the women’s Rugby League World Cup with a crushing 54-4 win over New Zealand at Old Trafford.

Inspired by the brilliant kicking game of Ali Brigginshaw, the Jillaroos turned on the style against opponents who had pushed them to within two points in their previous group-stage encounter.

And in ending the tournament with a cumulative points score of 312 to 12 in their favour, Brad Donald’s team mercilessly set the standard for their rivals if they wish to make a game of it in the next World Cup in France in 2025.

Bolstered by a powerful right flank featuring Amber Hall and Mele Hufanga, the Kiwi Ferns arrived at Old Trafford with plenty of confidence, but it swiftly became apparent that Australia, whose game was underpinned by the brilliant kicking game of player of the match Brigginshaw, were a class apart.

Centres Jessica Sergis and Isabelle Kelly and prop Kennedy Cherrington each helped themselves to a brace, while Lauren Brown kicked five from five after temporarily being handed conversion duties by Brigginshaw.

Early tries from Sergis and Kelly got the Jillaroos off on the right foot, with Hall and Hufanga rendered bit-part players as the Australians continued to pummel their opponents’ weaker left side.

Ali Brigginshaw in action
Ali Brigginshaw starred for Australia (Tim Goode/PA)

Hall and Otesa Pule bulled close in a rare foray forward, but Australia’s dominance was encapsulated in a brilliant third try when Brigginshaw lofted a kick wide for Julia Robinson to bundle over in the corner.

Kelly scored her second to make it 20-0 at the break, before a second-half opener from Emma Tonegato, twisting through the ailing New Zealand line, was followed by a second from Sergis.

Tarryn Aiken extended Australia’s lead to 38-0 before the Kiwi Ferns finally made it onto the scoreboard, Hall starting a move that swung out left where Madison Bartlett touched down to sympathetic cheers.

Two tries in as many minutes from the powerful Cherrington and a final, twisting effort from Evania Pelite put the gloss on Australia’s performance and underlined the gulf in the women’s game between themselves and everyone else.