Kezie Apps' Jillaroos successfully defend World Cup

World champions: Sam Bremner and Kezie Apps share an embrace after winning the Rugby League World Cup on Saturday 23-16 over New Zealand.
World champions: Sam Bremner and Kezie Apps share an embrace after winning the Rugby League World Cup on Saturday 23-16 over New Zealand.

A FIELD goal on the stroke of full-time from Australian live-wire, Caitlyn Moran sealed the game for the Jillaroos, including Far-South-Coast export Kezie Apps, after holding off a late surge from a determined Kiwi Ferns outfit.

Moran also bagged a double in the match which laid the platform for the Jillaroos to build a lead after spending much of the first half fending off New Zealand attacks.

New Zealand try scoring machine, Honey Hireme, also scored two tries but it wasn’t enough as the Jillaroos won their second straight women’s World Cup.

As soon as play got underway, the Ferns flexed their muscles and tried to put the jillaroos on the back foot by sending their powerful forwards up the middle to try and gain some early momentum.

But despite controlling the opening minutes of the game, some brilliant creative play from the Jillaroos resulted in the first points of the final.

With two defenders on her back, Renae Kunst managed to get an offload to fullback Nakia Davis-Welsh who flew downfield before drawing the Kiwi fullback and finding Isabelle Kelly unmarked to score.

Caitlyn Moran made no mistakes adding the extras to give Australia an early 6-nil lead just eight minutes into the match.

But New Zealand wouldn’t stay behind for long turning to Honey Hireme, who got her first of the day to level the scores just four minutes later.

And as the clocked ticked into the back end of the first half, Hireme once again gave New Zealand the upper hand after she forced her way over for her second try of the day.

Despite dominating for most of the first half, New Zealand only held onto a slim 10-6 advantage before Australia finally broke through on the verge of halftime.

Moran planted the ball down beside the posts before converting her own try to give the Jillaroos an unexpected 12-10 lead heading into the second half.

After the break, it was the Jillaroos who took control of the match following play getting underway, landing a swift double blow within four minutes of each other to gain a firm grasp on the game.

The first came from an Ali Brigginshaw grubber kick which deflected off a New Zealand defender, bouncing up perfectly Kelly who was in pursuit and put the ball down under the posts for her second try.

Then just four minutes later, forward Elianna Walton forced her way over next to the posts to give Australia a 22-10 lead.

But New Zealand were far from done and when Raecene McGregor broke through with 10 minutes to go, just a converted try separated the scores, but Moran’s field goal sealed the win.