Cool heads helped get Black Ferns home - Demant

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They might have spent a large part of the game behind the tournament favourites, but Demant said she never felt the Black Ferns were 'under the pump.'

"I don't say that based on the opposition, but on the calmness our 15 players out there showed.

"We knew where the space was - we just had to get the ball there.

"We knew their lineout drive was killing us, so we tried to keep the ball in and not concede any penalties. It took 80 minutes and it took 23 players."

Down 0-14 on the back of two England lineout maul tries after 15 minutes, New Zealand responded with lineout mauls of their own, and by halftime, the score favoured England 26-19.

But as Demant said: "One of the great strengths of our team is the ability to learn from the first half and know what we're going to do next, and how to find solutions.

"We did that in the second half. We've done that in most of our games. It showed right from the start [of the second half] when we scored straight off the bat.

"We have a team that loves to play fast, and loves to play ever faster in the second half. I think that's why we never felt that scoreboard pressure even when we were down."

The Black Ferns also built on lessons learned in their equally thrilling semifinal win over France.

"One of the great things about our semifinal was we won, but we didn't get to play our game. We knew that today, we would be able to play our game.

"We play our best rugby when our minds are free and we play with joy. I guess that's where the calmness came from."

It was also a salute to coach Wayne Smith's approach with the side. Demant said Smith focused on the mindset of the side from the outset.

"He challenged us when the opposition presented certain pictures. He said, 'How can we score off this?'

"It's hard when you're not used to thinking like that. He  doesn't do things by the book. That's the greatest influence Smithy's had on our team.

"The players they selected throughout all our campaigns have shown the courage – the courage to play different.

"That's what's so exciting about the style of game that we play. It's definitely not the norm. It's exciting for the viewers, and it's fun to play."


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