Kiwi Ferns thrashed by Australia in the Rugby League World Cup final

At Old Trafford, Manchester: New Zealand 4 (Madison Bartlett 64 min try), Australia 54 (Jessica Sergis 5 mins, 52 mins, Isabelle Kelly 15 mins, 37 mins, Julia Robinson 27 mins Emma Tonegato 49 mins, Terryn Aiken 57 mins, Kennedy Cherrington 67 mins, 70 mins, Evania Pelite 73 mins tries; Ali Brigginshaw 2 goals, Lauren Brown 5 goals). HT: 0-20

The Kiwi Ferns were unable to stop the Jillaroos’ six-year unbeaten run, losing 54-4 in the Rugby League World Cup final.

After narrowly going down 10-8 in pool play, there was hope that the Kiwi Ferns would be able to upset the odds and win the final at Old Trafford.

But this game never got going as a contest as Australia won their third World Cup in a row, with the New Zealand defense constantly under pressure.

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Halfbacks Raecene McGregor was rarely able to show her talents on attack and the other star players in the Kiwi Ferns team also failed to make their mark.

Isabelle Kelly scored Australia's second try as the Jillaroos convincingly won the World Cup final.

Charlotte Tattersall/Getty Images

Isabelle Kelly scored Australia’s second try as the Jillaroos convincingly won the World Cup final.

Many of the New Zealand players were having to play their fifth game in 17 days, while Australia were able to rotate their players more, as they had an easier semifinal, against Papua New Guinea.

How much of a difference that made is unknown, but the Kiwi Ferns looked flat, while Australia’s play was sharper, with fewer errors.

Right from the kickoff the pressure on the Kiwi Ferns’ defense was relentless and after starting a set from inside the opposition half center Jessica Sergis crashed over for the opening try in the fifth minute.

After going close against the Jillaroos last week, the Kiwi Ferns had a tough day at Old Trafford in the final.

Jon Super/AP

After going close against the Jillaroos last week, the Kiwi Ferns had a tough day at Old Trafford in the final.

Australia’s second try came 10 minutes later as the Kiwi Ferns’ scrambling defense couldn’t contain an overlap on the left edge and Isabelle Kelly found herself in plenty of space.

It wasn’t until the 23rd minute that the Kiwi Ferns were able to start a set deep into Australia’s half and the ball was then lost by a knock-on.

From the following set Australia went all the way down the other end, with Ali Brigginshaw’s kick on the last getting tackle a fortunate bounce into the arms of Julia Robinson and the Jillaroos extended their lead further.

Australia had their fourth try of the half in the 36th minute, with Mele Hufanga unable to put a tackle on Kelly as she ran to the line and with the conversion made, the Jillaroos were already up 20-0.

Emma Tonegato scored for Australia nine minutes into the second half, with a try that ruled out any chance of a comeback from New Zealand.

In the 64th minute the biggest cheer of the day went up when Madison Bartlett scored the Kiwi Ferns’ only try, thanks to a great run and pass from captain Krystal Rota.

Madison Bartlett scores NZ's lone try during the Women's Rugby League World Cup final.

Jon Super/AP

Madison Bartlett scores NZ’s lone try during the Women’s Rugby League World Cup final.

But that was a rare moment of joy for New Zealand as Australia continued to run away with it for the remainder of the final.

The big moment

There wasn’t one moment that turned this game, right from the beginning it was clear that this was going to be a struggle for the Kiwi Ferns.

Match ratings

6/10: While those watching this final could marvel at the clinical play from the Jillaroos, the one-sided nature of this showpiece game meant it wasn’t much of a spectacle.

The big picture

Australia scored 312 points over the World Cup and conceded just 12.

That says all you need to know about this tournament and the Jillaroos’ dominance of the international game.


Halfback Ali Brigginshaw benefitted from playing behind a forward pack that controlled the middle of the park, but she was superb with her kicking game and setting up Australia’s scoring opportunities.

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