Praise flows for world champion Black Ferns 26 Aug 2017
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Maggie Alphonsi, The Sunday Telegraph: "Make no mistake, that was the best Women's Rugby World Cup final we have ever seen. It was the perfect advertisement for the game. England and New Zealand gave it absolutely everything, and the quality and intensity from both sides cannot be commended enough.
"I feel for England after coming up short in Belfast, but the power displayed by the Black Ferns and Toka Natua getting a hat-trick marked a stunning performance from the now five-time world champions.
"Captain Fiao'o Faamausili should be very proud of her pack and their second-half control over England, which won them the game. It feels like revenge for 2014, and New Zealand as a nation are excellent at bouncing back in that manner.
"You had the men's side being knocked out in France in 2007 and then coming back to win in 2011 and 2015. They are good at handling setbacks and using it [to] drive themselves on over the next few years."
Kate Rowan, The Sunday Telegraph: "New Zealand were crowned Women's Rugby World Cup champions for the fifth time beating holders England 41-32 after a breathless game that will go down as a classic final of both the men's and women's game.
"For the majority of the tournament, New Zealand's match-day 23 was made up of 17 amateurs and just six players on sevens contracts, this is sure to further the debate surrounding professional contracts for women's XVs players as England were the only side in the tournament to field a professional side."
"Promoted to prime-time billing on ITV, the Red Roses were unable to end their hoodoo against the Black Ferns.
"England have now lost four out of four finals against their arch enemies – 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2017 – but they put up a heroic effort before the Kiwi comeback."
Stephen Jones, The Sunday Times: "There was a very long period in the first half of this extraordinary game when you would not have backed New Zealand at astronomic odds against. England had established their game and New Zealand were in danger of being taken to the cleaners. England could not take all their chances but they pulled clear to 17-5 before half-time, and the general thought at that stage was that they had only to get in unscathed at half-time to retain their title. They did not. New Zealand are world champions, scoring five tries in a devastating second half, when Toka Natua completed a remarkable hat-trick.
"…Yet on an occasion that was astonishing, high-speed and dramatic, New Zealand changed course totally. Their game plan in the second half was to go round and round the corner at the breakdown, keeping low and conservative, retaining the ball and making ground steadily, until England ran out of defenders.
"England, who were never remotely their true selves after half-time, could not slow the ball down, could not turn it over and could not dent New Zealand where they wanted them at close quarters. As [Emily] Scarratt said: 'We knew what they were doing, but there was no way we could stop them'."
Catherine Spencer (former England captain), The Rugby Paper: "They say you need to control the pace of the game and England simply couldn't do it in the second half. The Black Ferns scored just before half-time and it was constant wave after wave after that.
"England were really good and never took a step back in defence but New Zealand played with such an intensity that they were no way England could live up to it."
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