14 Nov 2022
Henry praises battling England as New Zealand seal sixth final
Kiwi Ferns came from behind to outmuscle hosts 20-6 in York and set up a Jillaroos rematch
By Megan Armitage at LNER Community Stadium
New Zealand head coach Ricky Henry insists their work is not over after the Kiwi Ferns battled past England to reach their sixth successive World Cup final.
Mele Hufanga and Amber Hall outmuscled the host nation in a 20-6 victory at York's LNER Community Stadium and Henry's side will now face a rematch, after losing just 10-8 in the group stage, with neighbours and reigning champions Australia at Old Trafford in a bid to win a record fourth title on Saturday.
Henry's side imposed their physicality on the lighter hosts but despite dominating the physicality stakes, the Kiwi Fearns coach recognises that his side committed several errors throughout the game, and praised England for putting on a terrific semi-final performance in front of a partisan crowd of 7, 139.
He said: "I don’t think the job was done right until the end then. I don’t think at any stage we were comfortable, England kept coming.
"The job is not done for us. We’ve been focusing on us rather than anyone else and we will do exactly the same thing for Saturday.
"It was good, we missed our assignment on that first try but I thought the defence, the scramble and effort and energy shown by the ladies in defence was awesome.
"We did the same against Australia [in the group] and we will need to do it again on Saturday to stay in the game.
"You’ve got to give them credit. They’ve been awesome in the first couple of games. They’ve got some strike power in their centres and their halves and the middles run well as well."
England were pumped 52-4 by the same opposition at the same stage of the 2017 World Cup and although coach Craig Richards more than halved that deficit in what he later revealed was his final game in charge, Henry expects England to be an even bigger competitor come France 2025.
"It was a real tough game and the gap has obviously closed. The next World Cup they will be a massive threat," he explained.
With York providing England's roaring support, Kiwi Ferns captain Krystal Rota was proud of her team for battling not just against the home side on the pitch, but against the jeers of the crowd.
And the skipper teased that New Zealand still have more up their sleeves ahead of the final on Saturday.
"It was awesome, obviously the crowd was for England and they made that very evident. It gave the girls motivation to roll their sleeves up," she said.
"We are just grateful to have made it to the finals.
"There’s still a lot more for us to give and the bond is still continuing, hopefully come the next game we will be at our peak."
The Rugby League World Cup promises to be the biggest, best and most inclusive event in the sport’s 127-year history with men’s, women’s and wheelchair teams competing in 61 games across 21 venues throughout England. Tickets are available via rlwc2021.com/tickets