Black Ferns storm into semifinals

Christian Bonnevie     18 Aug 2017    

Canada, runners-up to England at the last World Cup, had not conceded a single point in their first two fixtures of this tournament but simply could not stop the Black Ferns rampant forwards in a sublime first half that saw them go into the break with five tries and a 29 - 0 score line.
Such was the Kiwi womens dominance in that opening spell no one but the strong crowd in attendance would have known they were playing into a stiff breeze as they utilised clever kicking angles to find space and punched hard up the middle with ball in hand.  

Aided by Canada's strange tactics of trying to run the ball from everywhere, the Black Ferns defence simply overwhelmed their opposites and forced numerous turnovers in prime territory. 

Fresh off scoring 8 tries against Hong Kong, it was wing Portia Woodman who set the game alight once more with a searing break off a perfectly timed pass from first-five Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali, with the move finished off by fullback Selica Winiata.

The forwards then took control with the interplay between locks Charmaine Smith and Eloise Blackwell a particular highlight, while the loosies were physically dominant with or without the ball. The end result was Itunu barging over twice from close range, before some paitent build-up created the space for centre Stacey Waaka and second-five Kelly Brazier to each cross the chalk. 

The only concern for coach Glenn Moore was his side's discipline as they conceded the first six penalties and lost Itunu to the bin for a high shot inside the first 30 minutes, with Blackwell also picking up a yellow card in the second stanza for a neck roll. 

But any thoughts of a second half fightback were nullified when captain Fiao'o Faamausili barged over following one of many of Subritzky-Nafatali's storming runs to extend the lead to 36. 

While Canada kept trying, their handling constantly let them down as multiple attacking raids failed to make 5 phases before the ball was dropped, managing to pull off their ambitious expansive passing game only once to break the Ferns' line from long range. 

Any hopes they had of building some momentum to secure a bonus point and stay in the hunt for a semifinal spot were quickly shattered when wing Renee Wickliffe hit back immediately, before Itunu rumbled over late to ice the game with her third.