Quarterfinal Preview: Black Ferns v Wales (Rugby World Cup)

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Match Details: Black Ferns v Wales, Saturday 29 October, 7:30pm NZT, Northland Events Centre, Whangārei

Watch: Live on Spark Sport

Referee: Aimee Barrett-Theron (South Africa)

Assistant Referees: Aurelie Groizeleau (AR1), Julianne Zussman (AR2)

TMO: Chris Assmus

An extraordinary 16,571 spectators were at Northland Events Centre last Saturday to watch the Black Ferns overpower Scotland 57-0. Wales lost bravely at the same venue to Australia (7-13), conceding only a single try, despite making 245 tackles.

The Black Ferns have beaten Wales five times in previous World Cup meetings, outscoring the Welsh 228-45. 

The winner of this quarterfinal will face either Italy or France in the semis. Will the Black Ferns extend their World Cup winning streak to 12 or will Wales cause one of the greatest upsets in rugby history and reach the semi-finals for the first time since 1994?

Backline Pyrotechnics

For the first time in a Test match Ruby Tui, Portia Woodman and Ayesha Leti-I’iga comprise the Black Ferns back three. Combined the trio have scored 53 tries in 46 Tests. Coupled with the prolific provincial and club form of Leti-I'iga who has scored 226 tries in 102 matches and the scoring feats of Tui and Woodman on the World Sevens Series the highlights could be numerous.

Kendra Cocksedge and captain Ruahei Demant renew their 9/10 pairing last seen in the opening win over Australia. Demant was player of the match in the 56-12 win against Wales on October 16.

Stacey Fluhler returns at centre partnering Theresa Fitzpatrick in midfield, having missed the last two matches through injury.

Captain and second five Hannah Jones is the pick of the Welsh backs. The PE teacher debuted in 2015 and is playing her second World Cup.

The Black Ferns backline is the most settled, dangerous, and exciting in 2022.

Up Front

It took the Black Ferns nearly the entire opening quarter to score points in their previous match against Wales. Furthermore, the Welsh scrum was strong, and they scored two tries off rolling mauls with the Black Ferns conceding a 17-8 penalty count against them which resulted in two second half yellow cards.

The Black Ferns flowed almost effortlessly against Scotland in the first half because of a more clinical forward display. Tighthead Amy Rule was especially productive making 16 carries and lock Mia Ross has been one of the standouts of the tournaments.

Co-captain Kennedy Simon is named in a match-day squad for the first time at RWC 2021, the flanker taking a place on the bench after recovering from injury.

Wales are hearty and capable in the forwards.  No.8 Sioned Harries is on a three-game try-scoring streak against New Zealand. Openside Alex Callender is the top tackler in the tournament with 62, blindside Beth Lewis made a game high 25 tackles in the previous encounter. Tighthead prop Donna Rose is an ambassador for rugby-focused mental health charity Brave Mind, and for Rugby Against Cancer.

Can the Black Ferns get the same flow they did against Scotland to unleash their backline strike power, or will Wales pester again and keep open the questions about the Black Ferns forward resilience which have been a common theme in 2022?

Wesley Clarke 

Black Ferns assistant coach Wesley Clarke will be a part of a Test match for the 40th time this weekend. He has experienced 33 wins and a World Cup triumph in 2017.

Born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, he moved to Auckland to play rugby before turning his hand to coaching.

He eventually moved to Palmerston North to be with Black Ferns legend and now wife Dr Farah Palmer.

Clarke spent time as Manawatū Turbos' manager, before stepping up as an assistant coach under Dave Rennie for three years.

Since then, he has been an assistant coach of the Manawatū Cyclones, guided Manawatū women to National Sevens titles, and coached the inaugural Hurricanes Poua team earlier this year. He joined the Black Ferns in 2015 and has given long and effective service to women’s rugby.


Black Ferns: 1. Phillipa Love, 2. Georgia Ponsonby, 3. Amy Rule, 4. Maiakawanakaulani Roos, 5. Chelsea Bremner, 6. Alana Bremner, 7. Sarah Hirini, 8. Liana Mikaele-Tu'u, 9. Kendra Cocksedge, 10. Ruahei Demant (C), 11. Ayesha Leti-l'iga, 12. Theresa Fitzpatrick, 13. Stacey Fluhler, 14. Portia Woodman, 15. Ruby Tui

Reserves: 16. Luka Connor, 17. Krystal Murray, 18. Santo Taumata, 19. Joanah Ngan-Woo, 20. Kennedy Simon, 21. Ariana Bayler, 22. Hazel Tubic, 23. Renee Holmes.

Wales:  1. Cara Hope, 2. Carys Phillips, 3. Donna Rose, 4. Natalia John, 5. Gwen Crabb, 6. Beth Lewis, 7. Alex Callender, 8. Sioned Harries, 9. Keira Bevan, 10. Elinor Snowsill, 11. Lisa Neumann, 12. Hannah Jones (C), 13. Carys Williams, 14. Lowri Norkett, 15. Jasmine Joyce

Reserves: 16. Kelsey Jones, 17. Gwenllian Pyrs, 18. Sisilia Tuipulotu, 19. Georgia Evans, 20. Siwan Lillicrap, 21. Ffion Lewis, 22. Lleucu George, 23. Megan Webb.


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