NZ beats England 34-31 in Women's Rugby World Cup final

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — Replacement winger Ayesha Leti-I’iga scored her second try in the 72nd minute as defending champion New Zealand rallied to beat top-ranked England 34-31 Saturday in a breathtaking final to the Women’s Rugby World Cup.

Hooker Amy Cockayne earlier had scored three tries at the heart of England’s trademark rolling maul as the Red Roses overcame a red card in the 18th minute to lead 31-29 with time running out.

But New Zealand, also down to 14 players after a yellow card to co-captain Kennedy Simon, produced a superb try to Leti-I’iga to win back the lead and held on to delight a crowd of more than 40,000 at Eden Park, a world record for a women’s rugby match.

England, on a world-record streak of 30 consecutive wins, had two chances to score from its potent lineout drive in the final moments of the match. But New Zealand first held it out, then won a lineout turnover after the fulltime siren to save the match.

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The Associated Press