When the Black Ferns met a New Zealand Barbarians side in Auckland on Saturday, there were high expectations for the national side’s performance.
For the most part, they lived up to those in a 34-15 win. However, there was plenty to be impressed by from the Barbarians, playing their first match in 15 months, despite what ended up being a rather lopsided scoreline.
The Black Ferns went up big early on with four tries in the opening half hour, including a double to Langi Veainu on debut. Leading 20-0, the stage was set for the national side to go on with the job and post an impressive total.
Instead, the Barbarians struck through a penalty goal and a try just before halftime to close the gap to 12 heading into the second half.
? How good was the first haka of 2020!
— Black Ferns (@BlackFerns) November 14, 2020
Within five minutes of the restart, the Barbarians closed the gap to just five points after Lyric Faleafaga crossed the stripe, with her try converted by Patricia Maliepo.
However, the chance of an historic upset was pushed further away again just moments later when Cheyelle Robins-Reti scored, and a sixth Black Ferns try to Grace Brooker sealed the win. The two teams clash again in Nelson next Saturday.
“I’m happy we came away with the result. It was tough to assemble and only have five days together, so I’m happy we got the win but lot of lessons to take in to next week,” Black Ferns captain Eloise Blackwell said after the match.
In the Mitre 10 Cup, Wellington have staved off relegation with a strong 31-5 win over Manawatu, despite an extremely slow start.
In an incredibly tight Premiership competition, Wellington’s win not only ensures they won’t be relegated, but now gives them a faint hope of making an appearance in the playoffs.
For that to happen, Wellington needs North Harbour to beat Bay of Plenty without a bonus point in Tauranga, and Canterbury to not score a bonus-point win over Auckland in Christchurch.
Elsewhere, Waikato’s playoff hopes took a big hit in a surprise 28-17 loss to Northland. Waikato had spent time at the top of the Premiership this season but now are sweating the same results as Wellington as they sit in fourth place heading into the final day of the round-robin.
In the final game of the day, Tasman secured a home Premiership semifinal with a 26-20 win over Otago.
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