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Canada claim first-ever win over Black Ferns, win Pacific Four Series title

By Ben Smith
Canada players celebrate after winning the 2024 Pacific Four Series match between New Zealand Black Ferns and Canada at Apollo Projects Stadium on May 19, 2024 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Joe Allison - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Canada have claimed their first-ever win over the Black Ferns and the Pacific Four Series title under grey cloud on a cold afternoon in Christchurch with a historic 22-19 win.

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The stunning result came off the back of a resounding second half performance from Canada’s pack, which overcame first half issues to score two rolling maul tries, while captain Sophie de Goede delivered an inspirational showing at openside with two try assists for Fancy Bermudez.

New Zealand’s discipline in the second half fuelled Canada’s resurgence, while they overcame late drama with 14 players and an overruled try to hold on to their lead.

Canada claimed the the world number two ranking in the process of their win, sending New Zealand down to third.

After dropping the opening kick-off, Canada regrouped and opened the scoring through the boot of Sophie de Goede after sustained pressure on the edge of New Zealand’s 22.

Ruahei Demant sparked New Zealand’s response with a line break around halfway. The first five weaved through the phases before New Zealand were awarded a penalty, kicking to the corner.

The Black Ferns efficient maul set well and within a few phases left winger Katelyn Vaha’akolo finished in the corner unmarked, with Demant and Mererangi Paul linking in-between.

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A brilliant sideline conversion from New Zealand’s No 10 built a 7-3 lead.

Canada’s pack had a chance to respond, getting tight inside New Zealand’s 22 but a spilled ball meant the opportunity went begging.

A bust up the middle by Kennedy Simon set the platform for New Zealand and Vaha’akolo’s second. A smart ruck play by halfback Maia Joseph put Vaha’akolo through and she rounded the fullback to score. Demant’s conversion added two more for a 14-3 lead.

Canada had a chance to respond from a Alex Tessier crossfield kick to left wing Paige Ferries. No 8 Gabrielle Senft was brought down on the inside pass from Ferries, but they were awarded a penalty.

From a lineout drive Canada found their way to New Zealand’s line. A soft pair of hands from De Goede found right winger Fancy Bermudez who powered over to close the gap to 14-10.

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A dominant New Zealand scrum forced a penalty against the feed inside Canada’s 22, winning an attacking possession from the five. The lineout drive saw hooker Georgia Ponsonby crash over, but she was judged to be held up.

Canada were able to repel New Zealand’s last attack of the first half they went into the sheds down 14-10.

That defensive resilience paid off early in the second half when the Canada maul scored the first of the second half through prop McKinley Hunt, giving Canada the lead 15-14. De Goede’s conversion sailed across the face from out wide.

A spate of New Zealand penalties gave Canada the momentum. However, the Black Ferns were able to defend Canada’s next maul from the five, with substitute Kaipo Olsen-Baker making an immediate impact. She followed up the collapsed maul with another key turnover with a steal at the breakdown.

Second five-eighth Sylvia Brunt was yellow carded for repeated infringements after crucial De Goede charge down on halfway led to massive swing in territory and possession.

After Brunt’s card, Canada’s maul was stopped but the De Goede-Bermudez combination paid off again with almost a carbon copy of her first try. Her second gave Canada a 22-14 lead.

Errors compounded for New Zealand with the faultless Ruahei Demant knocking on a long Tessier kick to continue to hand Canada possession and territory.

Speedster Paige Ferries delivered a would-be critical blow soon after, slicing through the midfield before finding an offload off the deck to Tessier to dive over.

Drama ensued as the TMO interjected to call for the try to be overruled after the conversion was made due to an obscure obstruction. Amy du Plessis was ruled to have been interferred with despite making a defensive read of her own free will.

Canadian halfback Olivia Apps was yellow carded for a dangerous tackle on Demant which put Canada down to 14 for the final 10 minutes, but they were able to stand strong and hold the Black Ferns out. Mikaele-Tu’u was held up over the line for a goal line drop out.

They couldn’t withstand for much longer with Patricia Maliepo scoring out wide after centre Amy du Plessis drew the last defender. The score remained 22-19 after a missed conversion from Demant.

Canada’s maul got them immediately back into the game, using a rolling drive to draw a yellow card offence from prop Aldora Itunu.

They weren’t able to score on the next drive, but with time up on the clock, Canada got home and Alex Tessier booted the ball into the stands to spark emotional scenes for Canada.

Tighthead Daleaka Menin was awarded player of the match on Canada’s historic night and spoke with tears in her eyes receiving the award.

The Canada women’s 15s side, not yet fully professional, made an emphatic statement becoming 2024 Pacific Four Series champions.

HT: New Zealand 14-10 Canada
FT: Canada 22-19 New Zealand

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Comments

2 Comments
C
Courtney 35 days ago

This game was always going to be close, Canada have such a dominant pack and the Black Ferns have come unstuck in that area against teams like France and England in the past.

J
Jacinda 35 days ago

Wow, never thought I would read that

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