20 Oct 2019

Kiwi Ferns claim World Cup Nines victory

4:39 pm on 20 October 2019

Before captain Honey Hireme left her hotel room on Saturday, she placed a photo of her late mum on her bedside and told her she was coming back with a trophy.

The Kiwis Ferns celebrate winning the World 9s. Day 2 of the Rugby League World Cup 9s, Bankwest Stadium, Sydney, Australia, 19th October 2019. Copyright Photo: David Neilson / www.photosport.nz

The Kiwi Ferns celebrate winning the World Nines. Photo: Photosport Ltd 2019

The New Zealand captain stayed true to her word after the Kiwi Ferns upset Australia 17-15 in a thrilling final to claim the women's World Cup Nines trophy.

The Jillaroos entered the match as the favourites after winning all three of their pool matches, including a 22-8 triumph over New Zealand on day one.

They also posted the highest score of the tournament in a 42-4 rout of England.

However it mattered little in a see-sawing final where the Kiwi Ferns came from behind on three occasions to steal a memorable victory.

The triumph came exactly three weeks to the day Hireme lost her mother.

"I think it'll sink in when I get back to my room," she said.

"Before I left my room this afternoon, I put my mum's photo on the table next to my bed and I cleared the table.

"And I said to mum's photo, 'I'll be back soon mum, I'll bring back a trophy'.

"It's surreal. It's happened. It'll sink in after that."

Australia held a slender one-point lead at halftime at Bankwest Stadium when Onjeurlina Leiataua put Jules Newman over soon after resumption.

The Jillaroos looked ready to run away with the game after Corban McGregor reclaimed the lead with a scoring 60-metre run for a bonus try.

But Nita Maynard got over in the closing stages and Raecene McGregor landed the pressure conversion to seal the victory.

McGregor, who was part of Brisbane's NRLW premiership a fortnight ago, was named player of the women's tournament.

"Raecene's come off a really good NRL season with the (Brisbane) Broncos winning the championship there," Hireme said.

"To come out and, she absolutely was deserving of the player of the tournament because she's really underrated, but she's just got so much smarts about her."

Australia coach Brad Donald admitted their trans-Tasman rivals had altered their game plan after their battle on day one.

"We completed so well in the couple of days before and just a couple of errors hurt us," Donald said.

"But credit to the Kiwi Ferns, they changed their style of play from playing us last night to tonight. They moved the ball around and we just couldn"t handle it."

Jillaroos flyer Tiana Penitani finished with a tournament-high five tries, edging Hireme's four.

The two nations will resume hostilities in a 13-a-side Test on Friday in Wollongong.


Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs

We have regular online commentary of local and international sport.