The Black Ferns can lock away the Laurie O’Reilly Memorial Cup for another year when they face the Wallaroos in the second and final test of the series at Eden Park on Saturday. The New Zealanders have never lost to their Australian counterparts, and will be heavily favoured to win again this Saturday, but there are signs of improvement across the ditch and this test provides plenty of match-ups to savour. Scotty Stevenson has the match breakdown for your viewing pleasure.
Faith in the Ferns:
Glenn Moore has given his team a chance to improve upon their performance in Sydney, which is typical of his coaching style. It wasn’t broke last week, but there were things that needed fixing. He has offered the same squad the opportunity to find those fixes, which will include better ball retention on the carry, and a more agile set up on backline attack because…
The Wallaroos midfield was outstanding:
The absence of Sarah O’Riordan in the centres could well have given the Black Ferns the notion that the Wallaroos would be weak through the midfield. This could not have been further from the truth. Debutants Crystal Maguire and Atasi Lafai were superb on defence and continually frustrated the Black Ferns’ attempts to go wide. They will have to be better again this week (and O’Riordan has been selected at 12 in place of Maguire which adds extra experience) as there is no doubt the home side would have added some more deception, mainly to…
Get Alena Saili into space:
Still just 19 years old, Alena Saili had some mighty big boots to fill in replacing the freakish Portia Woodman on the Black Ferns’ flank. There is only one Wonder Woodman, but we saw enough from Saili last weekend to know she can eat metres at will. Invariably, Saili was handed the ball with defenders all around her, but never once did she fail to make the gain line. She also sparked one movement that almost led to a try for Renee Wickliffe. That was shut down because…
Emily Chancellor had a blinder:
Holy shit, what a debut from the Wallaroos blindside flanker. Whatever she had to drink at halftime needs to be bottled and sold on the black market. Chancellor came out of the sheds for the turn and proceeded to play 40 of the most extraordinary minutes imaginable, punctuated by two massive plays: a covering tackle on Wickliffe to save a certain try and a final try assist pass for the Wallaroos own try minutes later. Chancellor’s combination with fellow debutant Georgia O’Neill and the experienced Grace Hamilton is proof there are great foundations for this team to build upon. But it needs to start with…
Finding Parity in the front row:
An abacus was required to count the number of early carries made by the Black Ferns frontrow of Pip Love, Fiao’o Faamausili and Aldora Itunu. The three combined for a Black Ferns blitzkrieg that supplied a constant stream of ball for halfback Kendra Cocksedge to use. Captain Faamausili showed her peerless nous at the back of the Ferns’ formidable lineout drive and secured a hat-trick of tries, while Itunu crashed over for one of her own from a pick and drive. Replacement Wallaroos frontrower Hana Ngaha showed some power of her own late in the game, but it was perhaps too little, too late. Finding a way to stop the three kiwis early will have been foremost in the minds of the Australian pack. And they will need to if they want to…
Get Mahalia Murphy into the game:
Having become accustomed to talking up the Black Ferns’ outside backs, you could have been forgiven for not paying too much attention to Wallaroos fullback Mahalia Murphy. That would be a mistake this weekend after witnessing her blistering runs in the first test in Sydney.
There were question marks over the decision to move Sam Treherne to the wing to make room for Murphy, but those questions were answered in emphatic fashion. Murphy twice cut the New Zealand defensive line to shreds while Treherne was an energetic and organised presence out wide. The Wallaroos will want to give both players more ball this weekend, and that’s going to come down to the vision of….
Trileen Pomare and Ruahei Demant:
Both first fives made their international debuts last Saturday and both looked organised on attack. Demant will get the points victory for her running game – something she relishes generally, but was forced into on a number of occasions by the Wallaroos’ midfield rush. Both tens will be better for the test last week. One thing to watch will be the growing combination between Demant and halfback Kendra Cocksedge because…
Kendra Cocksedge is a freak:
There is not a player in the women’s game with more aerobic ability and vision than the Black Ferns’ vice-captain. Do yourself a favour and spend a few minutes just watching her. She scored the first try of the test last weekend after tracking inside Renee Wickliffe, took a quick tap to set up another, and invariably made up for every missed tackle in the game by tracking back and making the stop. Oh, and she kicks goals too. Just like…
Emily Robinson the goal-kicking prop.
Yes. The loose-head prop is the Wallaroos goal kicker. I applaud this. I applaud this a lot.
The need to know:
Kick off for the match is 5pm NZT Saturday Night.
The last time these teams played at Eden Park, the Black Ferns won 67-3, posting their highest score against Australia. The 64-point margin is their equal largest against Australia. This will be the 16th time these sides have met since the Wallaroos maiden test against New Zealand
Last week’s test in Sydney was the Wallaroos 50th all time.
Honoured with a moment’s silence before the game last weekend was Wallaroo #34 Mieke Fortune who lost her battle with breast cancer earlier this month.
For the men out there: Please ensure the women in your life are aware of the symptoms of breast
cancer and have regular screenings.
In other news:
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