Black Ferns edge Canada in fascinating encounter

NZR     15 Jun 2014     NZR

Four first half tries saw the hosts stretch out to a 26-7 half-time lead after being largely untroubled after the first 40 minutes.

But the visitors illustrated they are not to be underestimated with two tries in the second half to eventually succumb 33-21 to the delight of an entertained crowd.

Wing Magali Harvey was the visitors' best player with a try and three conversions to help her side on attack as the Canadians clawed back some momentum in the second 40 minutes.

Tactically, the Black Ferns were sound on attack and were led around the park superbly by first five-eighths Kelly Brazier, who had four conversions and a try of her own to seal a perfect four wins from four games he International Women's Rugby Series for the. Black Ferns.

Karen Pacquin was also superb for the Canadians, the right flanker illustrating her athleticism a number of times in the game while fullback Elissa Alarie was rewarded for a strong effort with a special 70m intercept try.

The Black Ferns were treated to some superb conditions in a Whakatane and the locals were keen to show their support.

That support from the 1410 in attendance was repaid almost immediately when captain Fiao'o Fa'amausili dived over to secure the first try for the hosts.

Canada's attack couldn't get going and they were instead left to defend their line stoically.

But it didn't take long for the Ferns to frustrate the Canadians on attack. Renee Wickliffe's try was the second in four minutes as the Black Ferns clicked into gear.

If Wickliffe's try came down to her superb speed and footwork, the third try was courtesy of a slick pass from Brazier that found Huriana Manuel in a gap and she duly scored. All of a sudden, the Black Ferns held a 21-0 lead within 26 minutes.

Canada did their best to create opportunities from almost nowhere, but in the end their risks failed to reap any rewards.

That was until the 40th minute. Alarie was outnumbered on defence and took a risk to try and intercept a long pass. It paid off and she was under the posts for her side's first try of the afternoon.

The try cut the deficit to 19 points at the half-time break but Brazier made sure that was extended to 26 points.

Harvey had been given no space to express herself all afternoon for Canada and then after 55 minutes she was given an inch of space - and she pounced on it.

The exciting wing darted down the right hand side before cutting back inside and stepping on the outside to show up New Zealand's defence.

The Canadians continued to pile the pressure on in the final 10 minutes, but poor handling errors towards the New Zealand goal line ensured the hosts got off lightly to the disappointment of Head Coach Francois Ratier.

But their efforts were finally rewarded with their third try though Hilary Leith and when Harvey converted the try Canada were within 12 points with just five minutes to play.

New Zealand 33

(Kelly Brazier, Shakira Baker, Huriana Manuel, Renee Wickliffe, Fiao'o Fa'amausili tries; Brazier 4 con)

Canada 21

(Elissa Alarie, Magali Harvey, Hilary Leith tries; Magali Harvey 3 con) HT: 26-7