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Black Ferns survive Wallaroos scare to triumph

Portia Woodman of New Zealand performs the Haka during the Pool A Rugby World Cup 2021 match between Australia and New Zealand at Eden Park on October 08, 2022, in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters - Pool - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

The Wallaroos gave New Zealand an almighty scare on the opening night of the Rugby World Cup, leading 17-0 before succumbing to the Black Ferns 41-17.


On a historic night for the sport with a world record women’s rugby crowd, Brienne Terita threatened a boilover with two early tries of immense quality.

The sevens convert scored either side of Ivania Wong’s breakaway to stun fans in Auckland, who had fair expectations of a Black Ferns stroll.

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Two yellow cards to Wong and skipper Shannon Parry ruined any chance of Australian success, allowing Portia Woodman to complete a hat-trick to carry New Zealand to a first-up win.

The occasion was a mighty one for the hosts, enjoying a sold out Eden Park for the first time, and playing against their bunnies.

Australia has never beaten New Zealand in a women’s Test, a run which extends to 23 after Saturday night.

Still, they were uncharacteristically nervy early, bringing no ferociousness to their first-half performance beyond their haka.


Australia preyed on Kiwi flatness, enjoying the lion’s share of possession and territory.

Frenetic defending from Ruby Tui – a contender for best afield – held up Liz Patu early, before the Australian breakthrough on 13 minutes.

A tap-and-go from Arabella McKenzie under the sticks caught New Zealand napping, allowing Terita to surge over in the corner.

Shortly after, Wong swooped on a loose ball from the hands of captain Ruahei Demant, surging from behind the half-way line to score a runaway try.

Terita scored a second on 28 minutes, a spread from the left to right that ended in the 19-year-old diving over, to put Australia in dreamland.


New Zealand quickly woke them up.

Finally enjoying some ball in hand, Joanah Ngan-Woo finished a 13-phase attack to start their scoring, and Woodman scored her first before the break to ease the scoreboard pressure.

Woodman tied the scores at 17 on 47 minutes, resetting t he match with the Black Ferns ascendant.

McKenz ie had the chance to reclaim the lead with a penalty soon after, but hit the post – the closest Australia would come to troubling the scorers from there.

Yellow cards to Wong for a deliberate knock down and foul play from captain Shannon Parry left the Wallaroos with just 13, and at the mercy of the Black Ferns.

They showed none, with Awhina Tangen-Wainohu and Woodman going over with the pair in the bin, leaving Tui to finish the rout with two superb running tries.

England and France were the other opening-day winners at Eden Park, which also set a record for New Zealand’s biggest ever attendance for a women’s sporting event.


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1 Comment
Willie 625 days ago

Along with the 2 previous tests between Aust & NZ women, the best rugby this year.
No TMO interference, minimal forward interference in backline, silky play from backs in both teams and good sensible refereeing.
Let's hope someone from the ABs, Wallabies and Referees was paying attention.

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