New Zealand edge France 25-24 to set up Women's World Cup final vs England

© Marty Melville, AFP

France flyhalf Caroline Drouin missed a last-gasp penalty as defending champions New Zealand claimed a 25-24 classic at Eden Park on Saturday and set up a blockbuster women's Rugby World Cup final against England.

With a shot awarded in front after prop Santo Taumata was yellow-carded for a high tackle, Drouin shanked her last-minute kick left as the Black Ferns made a great escape in front of a roaring crowd.

Down 17-10 at halftime, the hosts charged into the lead through tries to Ruby Tui and Theresa Fitzpatrick and were well placed as France went a woman down with a yellow card for loose forward Safi N'Diaye for another high tackle in the 70th minute.

Number eight Romane Menager scored a brace of tries in a powerhouse display, pulling the French within a point with 14 minutes left.

But Drouin's late miss sealed their fate.

France inside centre Gabrielle Vernier declined to blame Drouin, saying the team could have won earlier.

"We are so proud of us today," she said.

"We should have been better all the game, we should have been better in defence."

New Zealand, winners of five of the last six World Cups, meet England in a repeat of the last final in 2017.

England held off a spirited Canada 26-19 in the earlier semi-final at Eden Park.

"It was an unbelievable ending, really," New Zealand coach Wayne Smith said.

"I thought it was gone, but it wasn't gone. It's there and we've got a chance next week."

The French defence was brutal and Vernier was lucky not to draw a card after lifting winger Tui in a punishing tackle.

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