France were made to hold off a late salvo from the United States as they secured the bronze medal at the Women’s Rugby World Cup with a 31-23 win at the Kingspan Stadium.
Les Bleus looked to be cruising to victory when Julie Annery crossed for their fifth try with more than 20 minutes left on the clock, extending their lead to 15 points in the process.
However, the U.S. — kept in the contest by the boot of Alev Kelta — grabbed their second try of the game as Cheta Emba touched down to close the gap to just eight points with nine minutes remaining.
And when Emba charged into French territory moments later it looked as though an unlikely comeback might just be on. France held firm in defence however, and forced the turnover that ultimately allowed them to see out the victory and claim third place.
The early action at the Kingspan Stadium did not go the way the majority of the bumper crowd would have liked as Wales sealed their place in the 2021 World Cup with a 27-17 win over the hosts.
Ireland scored the game’s first try, through Paula Fitzpatrick, but found themselves 10-7 behind at the break as Robyn Wilkins converted Caryl Thomas’ 30th-minute try to add to her earlier penalty.
Wales then scored two tries in four minutes as Sioned Harries and Carys Phillips touched down to take control of the contest. Amy Evans was shown a yellow card with less than 20 minutes left, but Ireland were unable to take full advantage as Lindsay Peat’s score was matched by one for the 14 women through Shona Powell-Hughes.
A dejected Alison Miller of Ireland after Wales beat the World Cup hosts to qualify for the next tournament. Charles McQuillan – World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images
Katie Fitzhenry touched down with five minutes left to give the home fans hope, and the decibel level rose still further three minutes later only for Jasmine Joyce’s effort to be chalked off for a forward pass.
With the top seven finishers qualifying automatically for the next tournament, victory ensured Wales will be there while compounding a deflating few weeks for the hosts.
In the day’s action at Queen’s University, Canada — beaten finalists in 2014 — ended their campaign on a high with a 43-12 win over Australia in the fifth-place playoff.
Julianne Zussman and Elissa Alarie both scored twice for the Canucks, who ran in seven tries in all. Earlier, Sara Barattin was the star for Italy as the scrum-half’s extra-time try gave the Azzurri a 20-15 victory against Spain in the ninth-place playoff.
Patricia Garcia converted Iera Etxebarria’s try with regulation time up, but the Spanish were undone in the ninth minute of the extra period. Hong Kong have the unwanted World Cup wooden spoon following their 44-5 defeat to Japan in the 11th-place playoff. Japan ran in eight tries with braces for Mayu Shimizu and Ayano Sakurai.
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WRWC wrap: France third, Ireland fall to Wales
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