Black Ferns safely into RWC quarterfinals

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The 10 tries to two performance looked emphatic enough, but Wales did put some real heat on in the set-pieces and in the opening 15-minute stanza, in particular.


The Black Ferns, however, even down to 13 at one stage in the second spell due to two yellow cards – to Sarah Hirini and Charmaine McMenamin – looked irrepressible with their offloading and support play strategy. To the fore was wing Portia Woodman, who scored a double, set up three others and saved a certain Wales try with a remarkable piece of poaching from a lineout drive. The No 11 has scored 12 tries in the last three Tests in a rich and prolific vein of form.


It means the Black Ferns now go 5-0 against Wales, all games taking place at World Cups. They are also 8-0 this year and are building nicely into this tournament.


The first half wind was in the Black Ferns’ favour, but it was another sluggish start as the Wales tight five made them sweat. The scrum was a weapon for Wales but the backs could not capitalise.


Then came a withering burst of four tries in 10 minutes which sunk Wales. Lock Chelsea Bremner started it all while Woodman, who decisively won her battle with Jasmine Joyce, scored twice in quick succession, the second a solo effort shedding three tacklers.


Wales hit back through halfback Ffion Lewis on the stroke of halftime off a lineout drive.

At 22-7, the Black Ferns would not have been satisfied and they upped the tempo in the second spell, running in six more tries. Second five Theresa Fitzpatrick sparked up, making a run to help set up Maia Roos’ try, and then crossing herself after some tremendous work by Woodman and a skilful tap-on by Hirini.


The best try of the day was a beauty. It went to centre Sylvia Brunt, whose family and friends were out in numbers, and it went through six pairs of hands over 80m. Ruby Tui, who did well at fullback, though was untested under the high ball, delivered the last pass.


Wales scored its second try through captain Siwan Lillicrap, again off a lineout drive, but it was little consolation for a team that had the better of the penalty count and the set-piece exchanges, but could get little going on attack.


Best for Wales were Lillicrap, flanker Bethan Lewis and the tight five in general. For the Black Ferns, Woodman was outstanding, as were captain Ruahei Demant, the midfielders Fitzpatrick and Brunt, flanker Kendra Reynolds and No 8 McMenamin. Prop Krystal Murray was top value off the bench.


Pool A concludes next Saturday in Whangarei, where Wales will face a potentially tight encounter with the Australian Wallaroos, while the Black Ferns play Scotland to seek top seed status going into the playoffs.


Black Ferns 56 (Portia Woodman 2, Sylvia Brunt 2, Chelsea Bremner, Maia Roos, Theresa Fitzpatrick, Krystal Murray, Ruahei Demant, Ruby Tui tries; Demant 3 con) Wales 12 (Ffion Lewis, Siwan Lillicrap tries; Elinor Snowsill con) HT: 22-7 Black Ferns


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