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

AUCKLAND, Nov 5 (Reuters) – France flyhalf Caroline Drouin missed a last-gasp penalty as defending champions New Zealand claimed a classic 25-24 win at Eden Park on Saturday and a blockbuster women’s rugby game against England. Made it to the finals of the World Cup.

With a shot in front after prop Santo Tomata was yellow-carded for a high tackle, Drouin unleashed his last-minute kick as the Black Ferns pulled off a great save in front of a roaring crowd.

Down 17-10 at half-time, the hosts took the lead through tries from Robbie Toye and Theresa Fitzpatrick and were in good position as France gave a woman loose forward Safi N for another high tackle in the 70th minute. A yellow card was given for .

The number eight Roman manager scored a brace of tries in a powerhouse display to pull the French within a point with 14 minutes remaining.

But Drouin’s late miss sealed their fate.

France inside center Gabriel Vernier refused to blame Drouin, saying the team could have won earlier.

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He said that today we are very proud of ourselves.

“We should have been better all game, we should have been better defensively.”

New Zealand, winners of five of the last six World Cups, meet England in the last final of 2017.

England beat a spirited Canada 26-19 in the previous semi-final at Eden Park. Read more

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

“I thought it was gone, but it wasn’t. It’s there and we’ve got a chance next week.”

France have never made it to a World Cup decider and will miss out on a semi-final which they had previously struggled to get away with.

New Zealand saw a ferocious, 17-phase attack on their try line in the opening minutes but the pressure finally came crashing down at the left post in the 23rd minute.

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The French defense was ferocious and Vernier was lucky not to be booked after picking up winger Twi in a punishing tackle.

France finally conceded after the half-hour mark when Drouin fumbled the ball out wide, sending New Zealand reeling in front of the posts.

Fly-half Rohi Demant flicked the ball to wide Stacey Fehler who slotted past in the left corner to set the crowd on fire.

A conversion from full-back Renee Holmes leveled the match at 10-10 but on the stroke of half-time, the French came back, with Vernier heading over from the left post.

French torture

The match went level as Holmes sent the French defense ahead with a deft chip four minutes after the restart.

A human lightning bolt, Tui won a sprint against Emilie Boulard, wrested the ball out of the fullback’s grasp and chased it down for a try just before the dead ball line.

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

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Lock Maikaunakaulani Rose drove the hosts to within two meters of their posts and Fitzpatrick headed over to steal New Zealand’s lead near the hour mark.

Demant converted and converted to extend the lead to eight points but Manger finished the grandstand by firing through a nest of black ferns for his second try.

More drama was to come when Tomata Hucker collided with Agathe Sochat, high tackle, which was seen by the television match official directly in front of the posts.

From about 30 meters out, Drouin’s shot went well wide, leaving France in agony as Black Ferns scrum-half Kendra Coxage cleared the ball and the home fans cheered.

Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Edited by Peter Rutherford

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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