After two-and-a-half week tournament that had everything—upsets, blowouts, nailbiters, big hits, fine skills—it's the Black Ferns who ultimately come out on top after defeating England 28-13 in the Super Series finale; meanwhile, France closed out its campaign with a demolition of the Eagles, laying down a 53-14 win over the Americans.
England vs New Zealand
The table was set for a grandstand finish, as England and New Zealand squared off to decide the winner of the Super Series. From a spectators point of view, it was clear to see how much the game meant to both sides. For the Black Ferns, it was a chance to redeem themselves after a poor outing against France, and for England it was an opportunity to put one over against a Black Ferns side that has had its number over the past few years.
Both teams brought a lot of aggression, and at many times throughout the match tempers boiled over. It was good to see the intensity on either side, and is feather in the cap for the Super Series for staging a competition that brings the most out of its contestants.
England struck first with an Emily Scarratt penalty after four minutes, before Kendra Cocksedge banged one over to even the scores at eight minutes. A couple minutes later, Scarratt went over for a try and slotted the conversion from wide left to bring the score to 10-3 in England's favor.
At the 25th minute, Cocksedge orchestrated one of the tries of the tournament. The halfback took the ball from the base of the ruck and stepped five consecutive English defenders off her left foot before finally dishing the ball to No. 8 Charmaine McMenamin, who found winger Renee Wickiffe for an easy dot down in the corner. This brought the score to 10-8 and it was game on.
At the half hour mark, Wickliffe was in again after intercepting a looping pass from England prop Sarah Bern, and scoring under the sticks, taking New Zealand to a 10-15 lead heading into halftime.
Scarratt slotted another penalty in the 45th minute, but that was the last time England would score, as the Black Ferns defense, led by captain Les Elder, repelled every England attack in the last 35 minutes.
Cocksedge added a long range penalty on 60 minutes, Wickliffe scored another five minutes later to complete her hat trick, and then Cocksedge put over one last penalty kick to seal the deal.
France vs USA
In the last game of the Super Series, France came out and dominated early and often. Two Jessy Tremouliere penalties had Les Bleus up 6-0, before Madoussou Fall crashed over from close range in the 29th minute to give her side a comfortable 13-0 lead.
Just as the Eagles were making some headway and looking to get right back in the game, Emiline Gros charged down an attempted box kick, scooped up the loose ball, and sprinted 45 meters to the whitewash to push France to a commanding 20-0 lead before halftime.
In the second half, France asserted itself offensively, scoring five more tries and proving to everyone that it is back to its elite self. The US was able to notch a couple of second half tries through prop Charli Jacoby and fullback Alev Kelter, who once again showcased why she is one of the world's best players.
All in all, each team will have to walk away from the Super Series feeling good about the development they were able to get from the competition, and the experience playing against the best teams from three different continents. Two years out from the world cup, and it's clear that there are multiple teams who could put it together and win the whole thing.
Here's how the final Super Series standings shook out:
1st- New Zealand: 3-1, 14 points
2nd- England: 3-1, 13 points
3rd- France: 2-2, 10 points
4th- Canada: 1-3, 7 points
5th- USA: 1-3, 4 points