New Zealand players celebrate after beating France in a thriller at Eden Park ©Getty Images

Hosts and defending champions New Zealand secured their place in the Rugby World Cup final after beating France 25-24 in a tense tussle at Eden Park in Auckland.

France led 17-10 at half-time and had a chance to win the match at the death only for Caroline Drouin to miss a last-gasp penalty as New Zealand secured a showdown with England, who toppled Canada in the other semi-final.

Drouin opened the scoring with an early three-pointer before converting Romane Menager's 23rd-minute try to give France a 10-0 lead.

New Zealand drew level thanks to a try from Stacey Waaka and five points from the boot of Renee Holmes.

With seconds left of the first half, France struck again with Gabrielle Vernier going over and Drouin adding the extras.

Facing a seven-point deficit at the break, New Zealand responded in fine fashion with tries from Ruby Tui and Theresa Fitzpatrick.

Ruahei Demant converted the second of those before landing a penalty to give New Zealand a 25-17 advantage.

France cut back the deficit on 65 minutes when Menager grabbed her second try, which Drouin converted.

Both teams went down to 14 players in the closing 10 minutes as Safi N'Diaye and Santo Taumata saw yellow.

There was just one point between the two teams as France secured a penalty, but Drouin missed the target.

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

"I thought it was done but it wasn’t gone.

"It's there and we've got a chance next week."

New Zealand will next face England who had to show grit and determination to see off a plucky Canadian side 26-19 at Eden Park.

Marlie Parker struck first for England with a try in the opening 10 minutes that Emily Scarratt converted.

Abigail Dow notched another try to put her side 12-0 in front before Canada rallied with an unconverted score of their own from Karen Paquin.

Alysha Corrigan also went over, with Sophie de Goede landing the conversion to draw level at 12-12.

Scarratt landed two penalties either side of the interval to make it 18-12 before England scored a sensational try.

After Claudia MacDonald made a superb weaving run from deep, the ball made its way to Dow who sprinted from inside England's half to score.

Tyson Beukeboom got Canada's third try which de Goede converted to close the gap to 23-19 before Scarratt landed the decisive penalty with eight minutes left.

The final between New Zealand and England is scheduled to be held on November 12 at Eden Park.