The Jillaroos have secured their third consecutive Women's World Cup title in style with a comprehensive 54-4 victory over New Zealand at Old Trafford on Sunday (AEDT).
With veteran halfback Ali Brigginshaw pulling the strings, Australia were far too good for their Trans-Tasman rivals, extending their winning streak to 16 consecutive international victories with a 10-tries-to-one triumph over the Kiwi Ferns, who have now lost three straight World Cup finals to the Jillaroos.
Having scraped past New Zealand by two points just nine days earlier, it was a much more methodical performance from the green and gold this time around as Brad Donald's side rose to the occasion of the final.
Star centre duo Jess Sergis and Isabelle Kelly both crossed in the opening quarter of the match to put the Jillaroos on top before tries to Julia Robinson and a second to Kelly just before the break gave Australia a commanding 20-0 half-time lead.
Kelly doubles down in another RLWC Final
Having moved to lock as one of seven changes for Australia's semi-final win over Papua New Guinea, Brigginshaw's return to the halves proved the difference early on, with the co-captain instrumental in her side's opening three tries.
Setting up Sergis with a deft short pass for the opening try, Brigginshaw soon broke open the Kiwi Ferns defence for the second — her break allowing Tarryn Aiken to send Kelly over for the first of her two two tries on the left edge.
The 32-year-old would then put Broncos teammate Julia Robinson over with a clever kick in behind the defence to extend the Jillaroos' first half dominance.
Brilliant Brigginshaw places it for Robinson
There was no slowing down after half-time either from Brigginshaw or Australia. The veteran playmaker took just eight minutes in the second half to chalk up her third try assist with a clever inside pass for Emma Tonegato to race through and score, before sending fellow co-captain Kezie Apps through moments later — gifting Sergis her second try of the afternoon and the Jillaroos a commanding 32-0 lead.
With the green and gold extending their lead to 38-0 when Aiken crossed in the 56th minute, it was fast turning into a disastrous scoreline for the Kiwi Ferns and comfortably their heaviest defeat in international rugby league.
There would be a brief moment of joy for the New Zealand fans with Maddison Bartlett finishing off a nice team move on the left wing late on, but it would be a short-lived celebration with Australia finishing the match in style — Kennedy Cherrington grabbing a double in the space of three minutes to bring up the half century for the Jillaroos for the fourth time in five World Cup games.
Match: Australia v New Zealand
Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester
- Australia and New Zealand have contested the past four women's World Cup finals; the Jillaroos winning three and the Kiwi Ferns one in 2008.
- Jillaroos coach Brad Donald made seven changes from the side that defeated Papua New Guinea 82-0 in their semi-final earlier in the week.
- Australia have now won 11 consecutive World Cup matches, with their last defeat coming to New Zealand in the group stage of the 2013 tournament.
- Julia Robinson's first-half try took her tally to seven for the tournament, giving her the equal lead as the competition's leading try-scorer with Jess Sergis, who scored tries in each half to join her Jillaroos teammate on seven tries. The pair were then joined by Evania Pelite after her effort late on.
- Isabelle Kelly scored two tries in the game, just as she did in the 2017 Final.
- Emma Tonegato was excellent coming on off the bench, playing in the middle of the field and scoring her side's first try of the second half.
- Shannon Mato was immense for the Jillaroos, particularly in the first half, finishing with 179 metres. Evania Pelite topped the count with 211 metres, narrowly edging out teammate Yasmin Clydsdale (208 metres).
- 13 players for the Jillaroos recorded more than 100 running metres; only Georgia Hale and Brianna Clark recorded that mark for the Kiwi Ferns.
- 50 points is the biggest winning margin in a women's World Cup final since the Kiwi Ferns defeated New Zealand Maori 58-0 in 2003.
- Australia scored 50 more points in four of their five World Cup games this year.
- Ali Brigginshaw was named the player of the match, backing up her efforts after she was named player of the match in the 2017 final.
Play of the Game
With no shortage of tries to choose from for Australia, Tarryn Aiken's effort is well worth a second watch. Taking the ball down the short side, the five-eighth threw a lovely cut-out pass to put Yasmin Clydsdale away down the wing, before backing up on the inside to collect the return pass and cross the line untouched.
Aiken joins the party at Old Trafford
What They Said
"[The focus] is making sure we continue the legacy of the jersey and continue the legacy of the women's game, regardless of the team we're involved with. The girls are amazing and understanding what it means. We've had a fantastic tournament. The NRL have been great... we've been able to put great pathways in place for our females and state leagues and NRLW clubs. To be standing here in front of all of these people is a real 'pinch-me' moment just for the girls. This wouldn't have happened four or five years ago, so I can only imagine what the future will hold for the women's game." — Jillaroos coach Brad Donald
"That's a tough one today. To Australia's credit, they played really well. We struggled to back up what we talked about, but it's a credit to them and how well they played. We've got quite a young squad there so I'm hoping that in 2025 we'll be better prepared for another crack at it." — Kiwi Ferns coach Rick Henry
Ali Brigginshaw the player of the match