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New Zealand squeeze into the final

A last minute penalty which would have won the game for France was missed as New Zealand reached the World Cup final - but only just with a 25-24 result in a thrilling game. 

The talk going into this game was whether France would be able to reproduce one of their great defensive efforts, and whether New Zealand's exciting attacking game could hold up in their toughest test at this World Cup

In the end both sides held their ends of the bargain in a game which should be viewed as one of the all time great test matches in women's rugby. 

New Zealand withstood multiple phases of early French pressure on their own line, however, they conceded a penalty in doing so and Caroline Drouin sent it through the posts to give France a 3-0 lead.

France stretched their adavantage to 10 points in the 23rd minute as Romane Ménager powered over to score the first try of the match and Drouin added the conversion.

The Black Ferns, of course, had been forced to come from behind in their opening match against Australia at Eden Park, and they got on the scoreboard with a Renee Holmes penalty.

The hosts were growing into the match and after being held up over the line for a second time, Drouin kicked the resulting goal-line drop-out straight into touch.

That gave the Black Ferns a scrum, from which they won a free kick that was tapped quickly by Kendra Cocksedge, who combined with Ruahei Demant to put Stacey Fluhler in enough space to score. Holmes’ conversion levelled the score at 10-10.

However, if anyone expected that to shift the momentum decisively then they were disappointed as France went up the other end and restored their seven-point advantage.

It was centre Gabrielle Vernier who supplied the finishing touch, picking a devastating line to score next to the posts. Drouin’s conversion made the score 17-10 at half-time.

The Black Ferns again found a way back into the contest at the beginning of the second half, as Ruby Tui raced onto a Holmes grubber kick, beating the French defender and touching down just before the dead ball line.

Holmes missed the conversion and a penalty soon after that would have given the home side the lead, but New Zealand did hit the front with a little under 24 minutes remaining.

Following an impressive drive from the Black Ferns forwards it was centre Theresa Fitzpatrick who provided the scoring touch. Demant converted and five minutes later, added a penalty to give the hosts a 25-17 lead.

Again, though, France refused to give in and narrowed the deficit to a solitary point as Ménager scored her second try of the match.

France were reduced to 14 players with a little under 11 minutes left at Eden Park as Safi N’Diaye was shown a yellow card.

When Black Ferns replacement prop Santo Taumato was sin-binned late on it gave Drouin the opportunity to claim victory, but her kick sailed agonisingly wide.