Black Ferns make winning start in San Diego

Charmaine McMenamin 1566170446

Being their first Test match of the season there was some rustiness about the world champions and Canada worked them hard throughout. New Zealand's experienced core of blindside flanker Charmaine McMenamin, second five-eighths Chelsea Alley and halfback Kendra Cocksedge were each prominent in denying the Canadians more impact.


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They needed to as Canada wing Elissa Alarie was outstanding every time she touched the ball, scoring one try and going close to another. However, lineout throwing issues in the breeze in the second half reduced Canada's opportunities and it was the New Zealanders who finished stronger.

The Black Ferns looked to attack from the outset and it was only faulty handling and passing that prevented their scoring their first try before the ninth minute. When they did score it was on the back of good work by the forwards who built from a lineout drive to pressure the line and after prop Aleisha-Pearl Nelson drove at the line, it was lock Eloise Blackwell who picked the ball up and scored.

Canada made good use of a midfield tighthead to move the ball downfield with fullback Irene Patrinos making good ground to set up a ruck. When the ball was moved left, No.8 Gabrielle Senft made a telling break into space and then fed the ball to Alarie who cut back on a perfect angle to take the cover defence out of action and run in to score beneath the posts.

Into the second quarter, the New Zealanders attempted to up the tempo and fullback Selica Winiata and right wing Renee Wickliffe combined to take the ball down the right flank. The ball was moved left from the ruck where the outstanding figure of the first half blindside McMenamin broke into a gap to take play to Canada's line.

Quick ball from the ruck saw Alley move the ball on to wing Carla Hohepa to score out wide. Cocksedge added a fine wide conversion and added two penalty goals before the break, in response to two landed by her opposite Brianna Miller.

Starting the second half strongly, the Black Ferns missed an early opportunity from a lineout close to the line but in subsequent play they built off an incorrect throw by the Canadians to work a scrum move with debutant No.8 Pia Tapsell feeding Cocksedge.

The halfback ran across field to feed a reverse pass to Alley. Running a good angle she was into space to score in the 44th minute. It was reward for good work done late in the first half by Alley who made some strong breaks.

Canada came back, initially after Black Ferns first five-eighths Ruahei Demant kick to the line was run back out from Canada's line after Alley was taken out of play in attempting to follow through, but the match officials made no call.

Patrinos ran the ball out and with quick support, the Canadians worked their way back downfield. Eventually they got into the Black Ferns' 22m are and they showed impressive continuity among backs and forwards to keep the ball alive and eventually it was lock Sophie de Goede who scored.

The Black Ferns returned the favour, however and in the 60th minute, their own continuity play resulted in the opportunity being provided when Demant set up a ruck from which quick ball saw Winiata clear the ball to wing Ayesha Leti-l'iga who had to work hard to twist and turn in the tackle to score.

Scorers: 

Black Ferns 35 (Eloise Blackwell, Carla Hohepa, Chelsea Alley, Ayesha Leti-l'iga tries; Kendra Cocksedge 3 con, 3 pen) Canada 20 (Elissa Alarie, Sophie de Goede tries; Brianna Miller 2 con, 2 pen). HT: 20-13
Charmaine McMenamin 1566170446

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