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Black Ferns thrash Japan before World Cup

By AAP
Portia Woodman of the Black Ferns dives over to score a try during the International Women's test match between the New Zealand Black Ferns and Japan at Eden Park on September 24, 2022 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Portia Woodman has made a spectacular return to New Zealand’s team two weeks ahead of their hosting of the Women’s Rugby World Cup, scoring seven tries as the world champion Black Ferns handed Japan a 95-12 thrashing at Eden Park.

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Woodman, an Olympic gold medallist in the Sevens format, was appearing in her first Test of the year and underlined her devastating qualities with a virtuoso performance against a heavily out-gunned Japanese outfit on Saturday.

New Zealand’s dominance was such that Wayne Smith’s side looked on track to eclipse the country’s biggest ever win, a 134-6 victory over Germany in May 1998.

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Kendra Cocksedge scored New Zealand’s opening 14 points inside the first eight minutes as she converted both of her own tries before Woodman used her pace down the flank to outstrip the Japanese to claim her first of the game.

Woodman added the Black Ferns’ fourth in the 13th minute while Luka Connor broke through to take the score to 31-0 before Woodman completed her hat trick in the 25th minute.

Sarah Hirini extended New Zealand’s lead to 45-0 with seven minutes left in the half, although Japan registered their first ever try against their hosts when Seina Saito touched down from close range two minutes before halftime.

The onslaught continued in the second half, with Woodman adding her fourth five minutes in while Renee Holmes further increased New Zealand’s lead before Woodman scored two more tries as the Black Ferns opened up a 71-7 lead.

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Yuka Sadaka crossed for a second Japanese try with 22 minutes remaining but Amy du Pleiss responded for the home side before further tries from Stacey Fluhler and Ruby Tui extended the lead.

Woodman scored her seventh and final try with two minutes left as the Black Ferns laid down a marker ahead of their opening game at the Women’s World Cup against Australia on October 8.

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