Australia win Women's Rugby League World Cup Final with 54-4 victory over New Zealand
Australia are the Rugby League World Cup champions after a 54-4 victory over New Zealand; Isabelle Kelly scored twice in the first half as the Jillaroos cemented an early lead; Kennedy Cherrington also scored twice as Australia ran riot
By Megan Wellens at Old Trafford
Last Updated: 19/11/22 9:05pm
Australia retained the Women's Rugby League World Cup with a dominant 54-4 victory over New Zealand at Old Trafford.
The Aussies powered over 10 tries on their way to victory, with New Zealand's sole score coming in the final 15 minutes.
The tone was set in the opening six minutes as Jessica Sergis barrelled over down the right-hand side, before Isabelle Kelly's double and Julia Robinson's clinical finish gave Australia a 20-0 lead at the break.
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The second half saw the Jillaroos continue with the same attacking mindset as the first. Emma Tonegato sliced through New Zealand's defence, before Sergis flew through for her second. Tarryn Aiken added her name to the scoresheet, with Ali Brigginshaw and Lauren Brown adding the extras to make it 38-0.
Madison Bartlett brought the crowd alive as she scored a consolation try for the Ferns with 15 minutes to go, but Australia hit straight back as Kennedy Cherrington powered over twice, before Evania Pelite finished off the scoring to clinch Australia's third consecutive World Cup trophy.
Story of the match
The challenge was laid by these two teams as Australia advanced on the Haka and from that point, the intensity never dropped as emotions ran high.
The Jillaroos got the better start and made the pressure count after just six minutes, Sergis holding off two defenders to go over on the right edge after some great play from Ali Brigginshaw, who converted to secure the early 6-0 lead.
The dominance from Australia then continued as they worked from one end to the other, Brigginshaw slicing through the defence before sending it out wide for Kelly to go over on the left edge on the 16-minute mark.
Led by 2022 NRLW Dally M medallist and Golden Boot winner Raecene McGregor, Brisbane props Amber Hall and Brianna Clark and rugby union convert Mele Hufanga, the Kiwi Ferns headed into Saturday's match full of confidence.
For Australia, Sam Bremner returned at full-back, shifting Emma Tonegato back to the bench, while Evania Pelite and Julia Robinson retained spots in the outside backs alongside star centres Isabelle Kelly and Jess Sergis.
Although the Kiwi Ferns fought to gain some territory they couldn't make it count and Australia made them pay, Robinson collecting the perfectly-weighted kick from playmaker Brigginshaw to extend their lead to 14-0.
Just minutes from half-time, Kelly then grabbed her second as the Jillaroos continued their ruthless attack, crashing over to give Australia a 20-0 lead at the break.
As the second half got under way, the Jillaroos continued their incredible defensive effort to nullify the powerful Amber Hall and Mele Hufanga and got their reward after 49 minutes as Tonegato danced through to go in under the sticks.
From there, the floodgates opened as just three minutes later Sergis went over for her second, Aiken then joining in the scoring fun as she finished off a brilliant run down the left edge from Evania Pelite.
Match Summary: Australia 54-4 New Zealand
Australia: Tries- Jessica Sergis (2), Isabelle Kelly (2), Julia Robinson, Emma Tonegato, Tarryn Aiken, Kennedy Cherrington (2), Evania Pelite Conversions- Ali Brigginshaw (4), Lauren Brown (3)
New Zealand: Tries- Madison Bartlett
Despite being so far behind in the scoreline, New Zealand didn't give up and gained the biggest cheer of the afternoon from the crowd as Bartlett finished off the looping pass from Krystal Rota in the left corner to put New Zealand on the scoreboard.
However, the Jillaroos hit straight back as prop Cherrington secured back-to-back tries, crashing over from short range before finishing off the pass from Kelly, with Brown converting both to put Australia at the 50-point mark.
The onslaught didn't stop there as Pelite then crossed over for a try of her own with just over five minutes remaining to round off the win and put the Jillaroos on top of the Rugby League World.
Brigginshaw: I have forgotten how old I am
Australia co-captain Ali Brigginshaw hailed the Jillaroos' third consecutive Women's Rugby League World Cup success and vowed to target a fourth career title attempt in France in 2025.
The 32-year-old has been integral to her side's rise to a position of complete domination, having featured in both the 2013 and 2017 triumphs and sealed her stellar tournament with a second consecutive World Cup final player of the match award.
"I've forgotten what age I am, but to all those people who said I'm too old, I'm still here and I'm going to France," Brigginshaw said in an emotional on-pitch interview moments after her side's convincing win.
"That was unbelievable from the girls. We focused on defence and I have never been part of a group that can defend like that - it was something special.
"We never rested and we just let them cross once, which is something we are probably still kicking ourselves about. We had a focus, we're a committed group and we're really proud of ourselves."