Brilliant Brigginshaw pilots Australia to victory
THERE is a new Emperor of Ipswich.
Jillaroos five-eighth Ali Brigginshaw piloted Australia to a thrilling World Cup final victory against New Zealand at Suncorp Stadium.
Brigginshaw, who plays for Ipswich Brothers, was the architect behind Australia retaining their World Cup crown, claiming player-of-the-match honours as the Jillaroos sunk the Kiwi Ferns 23-16.
"It's overwhelming," Brigginshaw said.
"I didn't know what to feel. I was sad, happy, you could see the emotions on the girls.
"We've trained for four years for this and all the hard work has paid off.
"I wasn't expecting it (award) at all but I know I left everything out there after 80 minutes.
"I was out on my feet and buggered and busted but I knew I had to keep turning up for my girls."
The 28-year-old was snubbed for player-of-the-tournament honours at last week's Golden Boot awards, but showed her true class on the big stage.
Brigginshaw was the calm head in the Jillaroos spine as she played the perfect support for nifty halfback Caitlin Moran, who would have not been far behind her for player-of-the-match honours.
Brigginshaw took control of the Jillaroos kicking but it was her running game which constantly troubled the Kiwi Ferns.
She ran 11 times for 83m and didn't shirk in defence with 27 tackles.
But it was Brigginshaw's involvement in two crucial tries which proved the difference for Australia.
First, she produced the grubber kick for Isabelle Kelly to score her second try and push Australia out to a 16-10 lead shortly after the break.
And just a few minutes later Brigginshaw threw the final pass to put Elianna Walton over for what proved to be a match-winning lead.
Every team needs a general and Brigginshaw was Australia's chief controller.
If New Zealand claimed the trophy there were a number of candidates for the player-of-the-match honours.
Winger Honey Hireme continued her stunning record of scoring World Cup tries.
Hireme, 36, scored two tries in the opening 20 minutes, taking her tally to 13 for the tournament and adding to her 10 from the 2013 World Cup.
Kiwi Ferns lock Laura Mariu was a workhorse in the middle of the field, running for a team high 130m and making 15 tackles.
But the day belonged to the Jillaroos and it was Brigginshaw's calming influence and willingness to take the game on which helped Australia lift the trophy.