This set-up a winner takes all contest between Ireland and New
Zealand four days later, on 5 August 2014, with the mighty Black
Ferns, who had not lost a Rugby World Cup match since 1991, clear
favourites to progress.
Captained by the inspirational Fiao'o Fa'amausili, the New
Zealand XV was full of players who understood what it took to win
the Rugby World Cup. Renee Wickliffe, Huriana Manuel, Kelly Brazier
were all involved in 2010 and veterans Amiria Rule, Emma Jensen,
Linda Itunu and Casey Robertson had multiple titles to their
Fiona Coghlan's Irish side though was not to be underestimated.
Coghlan led from the front and was ably supported in the Irish pack
by the likes of Gillian Bourke, Marie Louise Reilly and Claire
Molloy. A dangerous Irish back-three included tenacious full back
Niamh Briggs and wings Ashleigh Baxter and Alison Miller.
Ireland started the game the stronger, but the Black Ferns took
the lead from a Brazier penalty. Shortly afterwards, a break by
Brazier sent Selica Winiata over the try line to give New Zealand
an 8-0 lead.
Undeterred Ireland maintained their forward pressure until
Heather O'Brien forced the ball over. Briggs converted to close the
gap to 8-7 at half-time.
After the interval another Brazier penalty stretched New
Zealand's led to 11-7 but, uncharacteristically, the Black Ferns
were making little progress from open play. Instead, it was Ireland
who scored the next try. A sensational run from Briggs allowed
Miller to go over and make the score 12-11, extended to 14-11 after
a touchline conversion from Briggs.
Demonstrating fine resolve, the Black Ferns clawed their way
level with a third Brazier penalty with fifteen minutes left on the
clock. But it was Briggs who would have the final say, capping an
extraordinary performance with a match winning penalty in the 70th
Ten nervous minutes followed but the Irish pack were able to see
out the match. Coghlan's side had arguably pulled off the biggest
upset in the tournament's history.