A hugely encouraging final game for Ireland at the World Cup saw them push seventh seeds Australia right to the death in this tough encounter.
The Wallaroos took the spoils, claiming seventh place overall, but second half tries from hooker Jean Lonergan and scrum half Tania Rosser allowed Ireland move up two places in IRB seedings from tenth to eighth.
Ireland, who were only pipped by a point by the fifth-seeded Scots during the week, trailed 10-0 at the break in Edmonton.
Australia led early with a penalty from Alana Thomas and winger Trish Brown's 35th-minute try. Brown evaded two would-be tacklers out wide on the left and then fended off Jeanette Feighery's last-gasp challenge to make the corner. But Lonergan crossed the line on 52 minutes, with Grace Davitt converting, and Ireland were right back in contention in the wet conditions.
A second Thomas penalty followed by an individual try from flanker and captain Selena Worsley saw the Aussies go 18-7 clear.
With only 12 minutes remaining, the game was effectively beyond Ireland's reach but the girls in green fought right until the finish.
They were rewarded for their persistence with a 78th-minute try when Rosser speared through a gap off a close-in ruck and made the corner. Davitt's conversion topped off what has been an excellent tournament for Philip Doyle's side, especially considering that Ireland finished 13th at the 2002 World Cup in Barcelona.
New Zealand s Black Ferns claimed their third consecutive World Cup title after defeating England 25-17 at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alberta. Despite England coming within three points with three minutes remaining New Zealand full-back Amiria Marsh sealed the victory in the final minute with her sixth try of the tournament. New Zealand's win stopped England becoming the first nation to hold both the men's and women's World Cups at the same time.
Ireland: Nuala Ni Chadhain, Jeanette Feighery, Lynne Cantwell, Shannon Houston, Grace Davitt, Sarahjane Belton (capt), Tania Rosser, Fiona Coghlan, Yvonne Nolan, Marie Barrett, Caroline Mahon, Germaine Healy, Eimear O' Sullivan, Rachel Boyd, Joy Neville.
Replacements used: Jean Lonergan for Nolan (45 mins), Sinead Ryan for Boyd (66), Laura Guest for Barrett, Louise Beamish for Belton (both 70), Rosie Foley for Healy (71), Suzanne Fleming for Feighery, Amanda Greensmith for Ni Chadhain (both 77).
Australia: Tobie McGann, Ruan Sims, Lisa Fiaola, Rebecca Anderson, Tricia Brown, Alana Thomas, Cheryl Soon; Lindsay Morgan, Silei Poluleuligaga, Louise Burrows, Alicia Frost, Chris Ross, Paige Butcher, Selena Worsley (capt), Tasileta Bethell.
Replacements used: Kim Wilson for Butcher (60 mins), Alexandra Hargreaves
for Bethell (66)
Referee: Malcolm Changleng (Scotland)
IWRFU Press Officer