Preview: Black Ferns v Australia (Rugby World Cup)

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France begins proceedings at 2.15pm when they clash with South Africa. Tournament favourites England follow at 4.45pm against Fiji. Hosts New Zealand tussle with Australia at 7.15pm.


The Black Ferns have never lost to the Wallaroos in 22 previous meetings, and that includes two World Cup encounters in 2002 (a 36-3 win) and 2010 (a 32-5 win).


The teams have met three times in 2022, with matches already in Tauranga, Christchurch and Adelaide.


The Black Ferns beat Australia 52-5 in Christchurch but faced much stiffer resistance in the other two Tests.


The Black Ferns have won 32 of 34 home Tests, including all eight at Eden Park. Can Australia cause a boilover or will the Black Ferns, with 17 World Cup debutants, get their campaign off to a strong start?


The weather is expected to be clear and cool.


Match Details: Black Ferns v Australia, Saturday 24 September, 7.15pm NZT, Eden Park

Watch: Live on Spark Sport

Referee: Aimee Barrett-Theron (South Africa)

Assistant Referees: Sara Cox (England, AR1), Kat Roche (USA, AR2)

TMO:  Ian Tempest (England)

Tickets: Get your Rugby World Cup tickets HERE.


Australian Physicality


A recurring theme in the three matches between the Black Ferns and Australia this year has been the Wallaroos ability to tackle abrasively and contest strongly at the breakdown. Black Ferns Director of Rugby Wayne Smith remarked on August 25:


"We find the Aussies tough physically, they’re really good at the jackal with the second player over the ball causing a lot of errors around the ruck."


Australian Captain Shannon Parry is a world class openside and will look to outhustle opposite Sarah Hirini who’s only played three first class matches in 2022. Blindside Emily Chancellor was a menace in the most recent Adelaide Test and No.8 Grace Hamilton was named Wallaroo of The Year in 2019 despite losing her father John.


Loosehead Liz Patu is the most capped Wallaroo of all-time and will try to employ her bulk and experience against younger tighthead Amy Rule.


The Black Ferns have signalled they will play with speed and width. Tough, organised defence matched with clinical ruck work by the Wallaroos could temper those ambitions.



Attack, Attack, Attack


The Black Ferns have scored 42 tries in six Tests since June, and that includes 15 against Japan a fortnight ago at Eden Park.


There are multiple ball-carrying options among the forwards with Luka Connor, Joanah Ngan-Woo and Liana Mikaele-Tu’u likely to be prominent.


In the backs the Black Ferns are awash with pace and flair though it might take time for new midfield pairing Amy du Plessis and Stacey Fluhler to settle. It’s a shame Ayesha Leti-Iiga is unavailable due to injury. The winger scored twice against Australia in Tauranga and Christchurch.


The Wallaroos aren’t absent of attacking threats. Sharni Williams is an Olympic, Commonwealth and World Sevens champion at second-five. Bienne Terita is a young flyer on the right wing set for a big future.

Impact from the Bench


When Wayne Smith was involved in coaching the All Blacks there was a major emphasis on the strength of the bench. The greatest manifestation of that demand was in 2013 when the All Blacks won all 14 Tests, outscoring opponents 183-53 in the last half an hour of those internationals.


In June when the Black Ferns beat Australia 23-10 in Tauranga the visitors led at halftime but didn’t score in the second half. In August, Smith was annoyed with the Black Ferns' finish in Christchurch despite the huge margin of victory.


The Black Ferns bench appears to boast more size, depth and vibrance than Australia. Kendra Reynolds scored a try in the 22-14 win in Adelaide. Props Awhina Tangen-Wainohu and Santo Taumata are powerful and mobile. Hazel Tubic covers multiple places in the back line and is a goal kicking option. Sylvia Brunt was selected by the Black Ferns on the recommendation of Ponsonby teammates.



Black Ferns:


1. Pip Love, 2. Luka Connor, 3. Amy Rule, 4. Joanah Ngan Woo, 5. Chelsea Bremner, 6. Charmaine McMenamin, 7. Sarah Hirini, 8.Liana Mikaele-Tu'u, 9. Kendra Cocksedge, 10. Ruahei Demant (Captain), 11. Portia Woodman, 12. Amy du Plessis, 13. Stacey Fluhler, 14. Ruby Tui, 15. Renee Holmes


Reserves: 16. Georgia Ponsonby 17. Awhina Tangen-Wainohu 18. Santo Taumata 19. Maiakawanakaulani Roos 20. Kendra Reynolds 21. Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu 22. Hazel Tubic, 23. Sylvia Brunt.




1.Liz Patu, 2. Adiana Talakai, 3. Bridie O'Gorman, 4. Sera Naiqama, 5. Atasi Lafai, 6. Emily Chancellor, 7. Shannon Parry ©, 8. Grace Hamilton, 9. Iliseva Batibasaga, 10. Arabella McKenzie, 11. Ivania Wong, 12. Sharni Williams, 13. Georgina Friedrichs, 14. Bienne Terita, 15 .Pauline Piliae-Rasabale



16. Ashley Marsters, 17. Emily Robinson, 18. Eva Karpani, 19. Michaela Leonard, 20. Grace Kemp, 21. Layne Morgan, 22. Trilleen Pomare, 23. Lori Cramer


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