Black Ferns firepower too much for Welsh pack
Reigning champions and tournament hosts New Zealand overwhelmed Wales 56-12 at the women’s Rugby World Cup to secure top spot in Pool A and a place in the quarter-finals along with England and Canada.
Prolific winger Portia Woodman and 18-year-old centre Sylvia Brunt both crossed twice as the five-time world champions ran in 10 tries in a bonus point win to delight the crowd at the Waitakere Stadium in the suburbs of Auckland.
Woodman’s combination of power and pace was all but irresistible at times as she improved her tally to 18 tries in seven career World Cup matches, and her overall mark to 36 in 22 tests.
Brunt scored the pick of the tries with her second effort, however, crossing in the 49th minute at the end of a sweeping 80-metre attack in which the ball passed through a series of New Zealand hands.
“I’m really proud of our mental strength,” said New Zealand captain Ruahei Demant.
“I’m happy that we had the courage to play into space regardless of where we were on the field and didn’t take the easy road by taking contact all the time.”
With some dominant scrums and powerful rolling mauls, Wales gave New Zealand a reminder of potential challenges ahead if, as looks likely, they meet European powers England and France later in the tournament.
It was from the lineout drive, a major weapon for tournament favourites England, that the Welsh scored both of their tries through scrumhalf Ffion Lewis and number eight Sioned Harries.
Any hopes of a comeback after Lewis’s try just before halftime were quickly extinguished, though, when Black Ferns lock Maiakawanakaulani Roos and centre Theresa Fitzpatrick crossed for tries in the four minutes after the restart.
While New Zealand can afford to rest some of their players for their final pool match against winless Scotland, Wales now almost certainly need to beat Australia next week to reach the knockout rounds.
Earlier on Sunday, hooker Emily Tuttosi scored two tries as Canada secured their last-eight berth with a 22-12 victory over Italy in an entertaining Pool B clash, also at Waitakere Stadium.
Winger Paige Farries scored a superb early try to cancel out an even better solo effort from Italy’s Vittoria Minuzzi, and Tuttosi crossed on the back of a rolling maul to give Canada a 12-5 halftime lead.
Centre Sara Kaljuvee extended the lead with a try 10 minutes into the second half after the Canadian pack had stretched the Italian defence to breaking point, with Tuttosi scoring her second off the catch-and-drive soon afterwards.
Replacement Canadian lock Emma Taylor was sent to the sin bin for a late shot with 14 minutes remaining, but her short-handed team mates kept the Italians out until number eight Elisa Giordano crossed for a consolation try in the final minute.
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