Last Word On Rugby, by Scott Hornell.
Not only were there two New Zealand rugby teams playing on Saturday night at Eden Park, but the women’s team, the Black Ferns represented their country admirably. With part of the home crowd forming early to see the women play Australia, the team performed cohesively in a Dominant Win Over Wallaroos.
The Wallaroos are Australia’s women’s team, and Saturday’s game was the first of two matches between the sides this week. The women ran out in the curtain raiser game prior to the All Blacks v Wallabies match.
Black Ferns in Dominant Win Over Wallaroos
Black Ferns 67 – S. Winiata (4), F. Fa’amausili (2), C. Alley, K. Cocksedge, E. Blackwell, V. Subritzky-Nafatali, H. Hireme tries; Cocksedge 4 cons, K. Brazier 2 cons
Wallaroos 3 A. Hewson pen.
The match was the first between the sides since June 2014, in a 38-3 win at Rotorua. Over that time, the women’s game in New Zealand (NZ) had developed. After the failure to reach the semi finals at the last Women’s Rugby World Cup, the Black Ferns have made great strides forward.
The 67-3 scoreline today is representative of those improvements. Built on the successful NZ national provincial competition. All players within the Ferns side competed during the recent Farah Palmer Cup, a focus on the XV’s game that was an obvious difference in the sides on Saturday.
Australia do have local competition; the Buildcorp Women’s National XVs Championship was competed for in June. The Sydney team, captained by Ash Hewson triumphed there, and all eight sides contributed members of this 2016 Wallaroos squad.
Wallaroos outclassed by Black Ferns
The result will be a hard pill to swallow for coach Paul Verrall. He brought over a confident side, and were buoyed by the fixture–a double-header. having both sides in Auckland, the men and women could play on the others enthusiasm.
The fact it never worked in their favour from the kick-off will be something the Wallaroos must improve before the second test on Wednesday. And both sides will study the tape, to gauge the strengths and weaknesses. Black Ferns coach Glenn Moore told Last Word On Rugby that post-match.
“We’re very pleased. You never expect a result like this, but it was very positive,” and when asked what the team need to look at, he made it clear “the breakdown. We’ll look at this before Wednesday’s match,” but it was clear from his smile, that Moore was a happy man.
— #RugbyNewZealand (@RugbyNZ_) October 23, 2016
Fiao’o Fa’amausili Overwhelmed
The most pressing question for the Black Ferns skipper was “how did that feel out there [on Eden Park]?” and Fa’amausili answered simply “that was an awesome feeling. Especially with the girls gelling after just three days together.” The experience was also one that the leader felt all the group would benefit from.
“It’s a massive experience for them. I’m just overwhelmed. And we worked to our gameplan, to keep them guessing. But there is still a lot to work on–ball retention, so we’ll go away and review the game and hopefully put out another big performance.”
The hooker opened the try scoring with a drive to the scoreline, and later she was rewarded with a try; reminiscent of All Black Dane Coles, scored out on the wing. She knew that if the team stuck to there gameplan, they would come out on top.
Adapting best to the conditions and location
Playing late in the afternoon, the sun was low in the sky. Asked if the team had adjusted in the second half, she answered LWOR “we just didn’t notice it. We trained like that, played to the conditions and it’s just part of rugby. You can’t control that” and the side made a good fist of adapting to those match conditions.
Appearing as the curtain raiser match, many of the team would never have run out onto a large ground like this. The Auckland players certainly have, but many other young players had been in awe at the stadium–but with families and friends in attendance, that would have settled their nerves quickly.
On the opposing side, fullback Sarah Riordan admitted her team must review their performance. While they had intent, it was not good enough at this level. They will be looking to create more chances on Wednesday. “When we did have the ball in hand, we did look dangerous and we felt dangerous, it’s just maintaining that ball.”
What may have played a part was also the yellow carding of Louise Burrows. The hooker was ordered from the field in each half, with the second time leading to an automatic red card. A big loss, not only for the forward defense but also the organisational ability Burrows holds. Discipline cost them plenty, even if one of the calls was quite harsh for many.
MVP – Selica Winiata
With four tries, and a more than satisfactory performance at fullback, Selica Winiata (pictured) defied her small frame. At just 1.55cm and under 60 kilograms, the experienced player is a handful for any opposition, and a key to the Ferns success.
Her first half performance was more organisational. She worked more with Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali and Kendra Cocksedge to seal the midfield. They held out the Aussies, negating the few periods of offence and then turning that into counter-attack. Then in the second half, she was tested further.
A huge all-round effort from Winiata. With the sun in her eyes, an expected barrage of high kicks did not eventuate. Australia tried to pressure the home side, and Winiata, Woodman and Hiremene all profited from the turnovers from Australia. They all crossed, with Winiata benefiting in four tries–to add to her 16 career tries, so far.
Solid Performance from the All Blacks Breaks Rugby World Record
In front of a loyal home crowd of 47,744 at Eden Park in Auckland, Steve Hansen’s men had to withstand a better offering from the opposition. It required them to work more on the basics first, before they were able to complete their task, 37-10.
“Main photo credit”