New Zealand 34-31 England: Black Ferns win World Cup with dramatic victory

Rugby World Cup final: New Zealand v England New Zealand: (19) 34 Tries: Ponsonby, Leti-I’iga 2, Rule, Fluhler, Murray; Cons: Holmes 2 England: (26) 31 Tries: Kildunne, Cokayne 3, M Packer; Cons: Scarratt 3

England’s winning streak came to an end in the most important game of all as New Zealand won the World Cup for a sixth time on a historic night for women’s rugby at Eden Park.

In what has to be one of the most dramatic World Cup finals of all time, the Red Roses went down to 14 players when Lydia Thompson was shown a red card in the 18th minute and led for most of the game.

England had lost four previous finals to New Zealand and their hearts were broken once again as Ayesha Leti-I’iga’s try regained a three-point lead for the hosts with nine minutes remaining.

The Red Roses had a chance at victory with one last line-out – their most potent weapon all tournament – with the clock in the red but lost their throw to the delight of a ferocious record crowd for a women’s game of 43,759.

Delight on the face of New Zealand’s players and fans alike was in sharp contrast to the England players, who stood tearfully with heads in hands as they reflected on the fact that their record 30-Test winning streak had ended when it mattered most.

As a full Eden Park roared its support of the pre-game haka, with England spread across the pitch and staring back non-plussed, it was clear this would be a day that women’s rugby fans would remember for years to come.

Both sides saw the oppor