Black Ferns defeated by Ireland at World Cup
The Black Ferns have suffered a shock loss at the Women's Rugby World Cup going down 17-14 to Ireland.
It was the first World Cup match the Black Ferns have lost since the semifinal against USA in 1991. They had enjoyed a 20-match World Cup winning streak since, claiming the trophy four times in a row.
Played in sunny conditions in Paris, France, overnight (NZT), the defending champions were tested early in the Ireland encounter, but appeared to be in control with an 8-0 lead midway through the first half. Kelly Brazier had kicked a penalty and Selica Winiata had scored a try.
But Ireland hit back in the 34th minute when Heather O'Brien went over and Niamh Briggs converted. The score was 8-7 to New Zealand at halftime.
Early in the second half Brazier kicked another penalty to push the lead out to four, but Ireland was not finished and fought hard to create a try for Alison Miller. The try was converted putting Ireland ahead 14-11.
Brazier struck back with a penalty to level things up, but with 10 minutes to play Briggs kicked a penalty for Ireland to sink the tournament favourites and claim a historic win for Ireland, 17-14.
The win moved Ireland to the top of Pool B and put New Zealand into a must-win scenario for their final pool match, against USA, at the weekend.
Ireland would qualify top for the semifinals if they beat Kazakhstan in their final group match.
''The heads never dropped because we were on the same page. Even when they went ahead, we knew we would go back up there, score and win the game,'' Ireland captain Fiona Coghlan said.
New Zealand coach Brian Evans was magnanimous in defeat.
''We're very disappointed, but fair play to Ireland. They outmuscled us, they forced errors, but huge congratulations to them for that,'' he said.
The final was on August 17 at Stade Jean Bouin, the home of Stade Francais.