The Australian Women’s Rugby League team, the Jillaroos, have been crowned World Champions defeating New Zealand in the 2013 World Cup at the Leeds Carnegie Stadium in England on Sunday.
After 13 long years at the top New Zealand have finally been knocked off the perch of glory by the girls in Gold going down 22-12 at the Festival of the World Cups.
The defending champions took an early 4-0 lead in the 6th minute but the scores were soon level after New Zealand made a mistake on the return set. Slick hands to the left 5 meters out from the posts and a decoy runner created an overlap for Jenni-Sue Hoepper to stroll over and even up the score.
On the 20-minute mark Charlotte Arnopp-Scanlan put her head down and ran through 3 Australian defenders to put New Zealand back in the lead, the kick was again unsuccessful.
A set play off the back of a scrum for New Zealand nearly seen them go over again as the speed and footwork of Honey Hireme had them testing the left corner. But the solid sliding defense of Jessica Palmer and Samantha Hammond kept the margin to just 4.
Hammond was in the action again shortly after for the Jillaroos, this time on the attack but was held up over the line after a pivotal back line move had her crashing over with pace.
Australia were mounting mass amounts of pressure towards the end of the second half and were finally able to convert that pressure into points 2 minutes from the break with Tarah Westera. Ruan Simms went close to crossing in the lead-up but was denied by the padding on the left up right. She miraculously managed to get the ball away and Ali Brigginshaw produced a fantastic cutout ball to put Westera in out wide to lock the scores at 8.
After the break the Jillaroos were piling on the pressure once more but New Zealand converted their rare chance crossing at the other end through Aimee Gilbert. Glibert used some great footwork to escape her defender one-on-one out wide on the right. The conversion was again unsuccessful taking the Silver Ferns lead to 12-8.
Australia’s Samantha Hammond put Jenni Sue Hoepper into space on their own 40, who showed great speed and evasive skills to dart through on a 50 meter run. Hoepper committed the final attempting New Zealand cover defenders and returned the ball over the top to Hammond backing up to cross for what was a spectacular try. Ali Brigginshaw converted the extras and Australia lead for the first time in the match.
It took another 4 minutes for Australia to use their momentum to go back on the attack and cross the line under the posts through Heather Ballinger, putting a handy buffer on the score line with 15 minutes remaining. Halfback Karyn Murphy took on the defensive line with a right foot step, was able to bust a tackle and offload it to a barnstorming Ballinger to slam it down over the line. Brigginshaw again converted to put the Jillaroos out to a handy 20-12 lead.
An interesting call 7 minutes from time seen the referee play half an advantage after Brigginshaw was taken out in a late tackle whilst the Aussies where on the attack. The ball was spun wide 20 meters out to the right after the infringement and the Australian back line created space to head for the try line but the play was called back for the penalty. A great chance went begging to wrap up the game.
Whilst New Zealand were trying to regroup and get out of their own danger zone they coughed up the ball, which was re-gathered by Australia. The referee awarded Australia a penalty in the next phase for a one-on-one strip 20 out, right in front. Brigginshaw pointed to the sticks for a penalty shot at goal and the Jillaroos lead 24-12 with the conversion and only 4 minutes left on the clock.
That was enough as Australia held on to make history and become the new Rugby League World Cup Champions.
It is the first time they have been crowned World Champions and the first time they have ever defeated New Zealand.
A truly deserving victory that was set up with a great workload from the forward pack that kept going forward all match, this set up the back line to create open space.
The Jillaroos defensive efforts were immense coming up against a bigger and stronger side, which as a result wore down the Silver Ferns throughout the entirety of match.
Their game plan worked and the post-match celebrations expressed just how happy they were with their efforts and achievements.
After the match, Australian Coach Paul Dyer dedicated the famous win to former coach Graham Murray who was struck down with illness prior to the World Cup Campaign.
Australia dominated the Rugby League’s Festival of the World Cups series by winning 4 World Cups. The Armed Forces, Police, Students and of course the Jillaroos are all taking winning silverware back Down Under.
The Australian Police defeated Fiji 18 – 16, the Armed Forces defeated New Zealand 32 – 22 and the Australian Students defeated England 26 – 16.
You can watch the Australia Vs. New Zealand World Cup Final here.