JOHN WALES in AMSTERDAM
ENGLAND's hopes of retaining the women's rugby World Cup foundered against the mighty All Blacks, the valiant holders giving up their crown as the favourites recorded a 44 11 victory.
England had the audacity to take an early lead with two penalties but New Zealand responded with a penalty and a converted try from the centre Annaleah Rush to hold a 10 6 half-time advantage.The second half was emphatic, however, with New Zealand's powerful, pacy play overwhelming England in the 90F heat. Rush cemented her dominance by scoring another try, three conversions and a penalty for a personal tally of 24 points.
In between Rush's scores the stand-off Anna Richards and wing Vanessa Cootes touched down, the latter's double contributing to a remarkable international record of 30 tries in only eight games.
Bruised and battered, England countered with a consolation try from the lock Clair Green - the first of the tournament against New Zealand - but the All Blacks had the final say when the replacement Kellie Kiwi went over.
In Saturday's final New Zealand face the United States, who defeated Canada 46 6. The Americans, runners-up in 1994, beat the All Blacks in the 1991 final but few predict a repeat.
The England captain Emma Mitchell said: 'We did about the best we could against them for 30 minutes, when we had them rattled, but they are a great side and justify their status as the best in the world. Our goal has to be to come back stronger and aim to beat them next time.'
Scotland recovered from the disappointment of missing the final of the cup competition by beating France 27 7 to secure a place in the consolation plate final against Australia.
"Rugby Union: Other All Blacks end defence." Guardian [London, England] 13 May 1998