Rugby World Cup: Black Ferns' risky lineout call pays off in thrilling final win over England

Black Ferns coach Wayne Smith has revealed the risk that perhaps clinched New Zealand's sixth Rugby World Cup title at Eden Park.

Leading by three points with just seconds remaining, the NZ women were forced to defend an attacking English lineout - a task that proved predictably tough for the entire test.

All the visitors had to do was win their own ball from just five metres out and charge their way to World Cup glory.

The Black Ferns had to decide between contesting the throw or setting to defend the powerful maul - after being penalised for both in previous plays.

Black Ferns coach Wayne Smith.
Black Ferns coach Wayne Smith. Photo credit: Photosport

Smith looked no further than replacement lock Joanah Ngan-Woo and the rest, as they say, is history.

"We had a strategy, probably for about six months - don't give them any lineouts and no penalties," he said. "That didn't work.

"We took a risk that last lineout. The message was sent down to get someone up and that someone was Joanah Ngan-Woo, who's a phenomenal athlete, good under pressure and she did the business."

While Smith's daring move suggested he was confident of victory, he was anything but - unlike Black Ferns captain Ruahei Demant.

Despite conceding two early tries and a late English barrage, the NZ first-five never felt like they were going to lose the final.

"It's funny, even though we were actually down for the most of the game, we never felt like we were under the pump or we were going to lose," Demant said. "I don't say that based on the opposition, I say that based on the calmness that our 15 players on the field showed.

"We knew where the space was, we just had to get the ball there and we knew that their lineout drive was killing us.

"We tried to keep the ball in and not concede any penalties, and it took 80 minutes, it took 23 - it didn't matter if we had a yellow card.

"I think the great strengths from our team is our ability to learn from the first half, and know exactly what we are going to do next and how to find solutions.

"We did that in the second half and we've done that in most of our games, and it showed right from the start, where we scored straight off the bat.

"We know our sparkplugs are going to come on and ignite the field, and there's only how many minutes left in the tank, so everybody just goes hard.

"We're the type of team that plays fast and loves to play even faster come the second half. I think that's why we never felt that scoreboard pressure, even though we were down."