VINCENITIA’S Ashleigh Hewson and the Buildcorp Wallaroos have gone down to New Zealand’s Black Ferns 44-17 in their second match of the International Women’s Rugby Series at Christchurch’s Rugby Park.
The Black Ferns outscored the Wallaroos eight tries to three in treacherous conditions, with hail pelting down during the first half.
While the three tries weren’t enough to match the Black Ferns, it was the highest ever score by the Wallaroos against New Zealand with the previous record of 16 points occurring in 2008.
“While we didn’t get the result we wanted, the team put in a much-improved performance from their match against England, and from our last encounter with New Zealand in 2016,” Buildcorp Wallaroos head coach Paul Verrell said.
“The most pleasing thing is after trailing 34-5 at half-time, the team came out and showed some resolve to cross for two tries in the second half.
“We will now look forward to the match against Canada, where we hope to be continuing to build towards our World Cup campaign with another promising result.”
The home side crossed for the first try of the match through Portia Woodman in the seventh minute when she powered her way past the covering Australian defence to give the Kiwis a 7-nil lead.
Fullback Selicia Winiata crossed for two tries in succession, before the Black Ferns captain Fiao’o Faamausili scored to extend their lead to 22-nil.
Toka Natua crossed for New Zealand’s fifth try, before a break from Wallaroos flyhalf Fenella Hake led to a try for winger Cobie Jane-Morgan in the 30th minute. Hake missed the conversion leaving the score at 27-5.
As rain and hail descended across the ground, New Zealand's Kendra Cocksedge had the final say of the first half, scoring under the posts and converting her own try to give her side a 34-5 lead as the two teams headed to the sheds.
The second half saw New Zealand continue to apply pressure on the Australian defence with Woodman crossing for her second try of the game, extending the Black Ferns' lead to 39-5, before the Australian women found some momentum.
After a number of attacking raids on the New Zealand try line, off the back of another Hake break, Wallaroos veteran Cheyenne Campbell crashed and twisted through the Kiwi defence to score Australia’s second try of the match in the 59th minute.
Hake slotted the conversion to narrow the score line to 39-12.
The Wallaroos continued to compete with the New Zealanders and were rewarded in the 75th minute with a try through barnstorming backrower Victoria Latu, who was impressive throughout the match narrowing the gap 39-17.
The Black Ferns had the final say of the match, crossing for a try in the final minute through Charmaine Smith, taking the final score to 44-17.
Final score: New Zealand 44 (Portia Woodman 2, Selica Winiata 2, Fiao’o Faamausili, Toka Natua, Kendra Cocksedge, Charmaine Smith tries; Kendra Cocksedge 2 cons; pens) defeated Australia 17 (Cobie Jane-Morgan, Cheyenne Campbell, Victoria Latu tries; Fenella Hake con)