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Black Ferns secure second consecutive Pacific Four Series title

OTTAWA, CANADA - JULY 14: The New Zealand Black Ferns lift the Rugby Pacific Four Series trophy after a game between Canada and the Australia Wallaroos during the World Rugby Pacific Four Series at TD Place Stadium on July 14, 2023 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Chris Tanouye - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

The Pacific Four Series came to a pulsating end, with New Zealand defeating the USA to secure their second consecutive World Rugby Pacific Four Series title, in Ottawa, Canada.


It was an unforgettable night on Saturday for 21-year-old Maiakawanakaulani Roos as she became the youngest ever Black Ferns captain and lifted the World Rugby Pacific Four Series 2023 trophy with her team-mates at TD Place Stadium.

After trailing the USA Women’s Eagles 17-5 at the break, New Zealand scored 34 unanswered second-half points to secure the 39-17 victory and taste Pacific Four Series success for the second straight year.

By finishing in the top three, New Zealand, Canada and Australia will compete in WXV 1 later this year in New Zealand, while USA will travel to South Africa to take part in WXV 2.

After receiving the Haka, it was a perfect start for the Women’s Eagles as they took a 7-0 lead over the Black Ferns within the first four minutes at TD Place Stadium. Georgie Perris-Redding got her side going forward with a scintillating midfield line-break, and, after a red card was issued to New Zealand scrum-half Iritana Hohaia in the second minute for a dangerous tackle, Freda Tafuna stepped hard off her left foot at the lineout to break free for the opening try. McKenzie Hawkins added the conversion.

The Americans would also see a card moments later when flanker Perris-Redding was sent to the sin bin for a high tackle, setting the platform for New Zealand’s first try from debutant Grace Gago off of a perfectly executed set-piece move from a lineout.

In the 20th minute, Jennine Detiveaux sliced through New Zealand’s backline in the hopes of scoring her side’s second try but the Black Ferns rallied to make two back-to-back try-saving tackles, the second on Summer Harris-Jones to keep the deficit to just two points. However, the Women’s Eagles would not be denied moments later when Rachel Johnson smashed over for the third try of the match.


After issuing a warning minutes earlier, match official Julianne Zussman handed New Zealand their second card of the opening 40 minutes as number eight Liana Mikaele-Tu’u was sent to the sin-bin for repeat infringements, allowing Hawkins to slot a penalty to push their lead to 17-5 heading into the half-time sheds.

Last year’s World Rugby Women’s 15s Player of the Year Ruahei Demant, a first-half replacement, showed her class in the opening minutes of the second half to swing the momentum in her side’s favour.

After USA were held up over New Zealand’s try-line, an errant kick found Demant’s hands and she sliced through the USA defence before sending a grubber down field to Renee Holmes. Detiveaux made the try-saving tackle, however the Black Ferns would not be denied on the ensuing play when Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu took an inside ball to score untouched.

After a Holmes penalty brought the score to 17-15 for USA, the Black Ferns took the lead for the first time in the 57th minute through their forwards with replacement prop Phillipa Love smashing over after sustained pressure. Holmes added the tricky sideline conversion to bring the score to 22-17.


With the momentum fully in their favour, the Rugby World Cup 2021 champions continued their offensive onslaught despite having one less player on the pitch. Mikaele-Tu’u added the bonus-point try for her side and put the match out of reach for the Women’s Eagles.

The Mastercard Player of the Match Demant and Amy du Plessis would add two more tries to put the icing on the cake for their side’s victory and clinch their second consecutive World Rugby Pacific Four Series title.

USA captain Kate Zackary on her team’s performance following the loss: “We know where we are in the future of WXV. I’m absolutely stoked for this team. They were buzzing going into this match and the first half they were absolutely electric and everyone in the stands felt it, everyone at home hopefully felt it. Things are clicking that we haven’t quite had and that’s a real testament to what’s come in the future.”

Black Ferns captain Roos said: “I don’t think the end score reflects the effort and game that the USA came out with. They came out hissing and it was a real tough game but we found a way. We obviously have a lot of new, young talent that we’re looking to grow and develop so this was a great game for that and we really lifted in the second half.”



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