Black Ferns survive Wallaroos scare to triumph
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.
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.
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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