Source: World Rugby/Getty Images

Pacific Four Series – Round Two

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A Report and Some Deductions

This is how the table looks with one round to play (June 18):

Table ​​​                      W​     L​      BP​       PD    Pts

New Zealand​​          2      0      2          41      10
Canada​​​                    1        1      1           3        5
USA​​​                         1        ​1      0        -29       4
Australia  ​​              0       2      1         -15  ​      1

Despite appearances, the Wallaroos may feel their two matches have benefited them most.

They went down only narrowly to the Eagles 14-16 and were the last to score. I base this conjecture on the undoubted fact that Rugby Australia gave its 15s squad the lowest priority of the four nations.

USA v Australia (Round Two)

The Eagles had first use of a strong wind and used it so well that the Wallaroos didn’t enter their half for the first 28 minutes. Fortunately the heavy rain forecast failed to materialise. It had dominated the two Round One matches.

The American pack proved stronger in early set-pieces, but twice they failed to set their driving mauls tightly enough to get over the line. The Wallaroos forwards battled hard, Grace Hamilton and Emily Chancellor especially prominent.

At least Lotte Clapp, on her first start for the Eagles, had the ball in her hands inside two minutes. That will have pleased her many Sarries’ fans.

The USA dominated possession over the first half hour, but the Wallaroos pressed hard at the breakdowns, and the Eagles were happy to aim for the posts. Gabby Cantorna struck the first of her four pots at goal. (3-0)

Chancellor’s yellow card proved costly. While she was out of the action, the Eagles added a converted try to the evergreen Hope Rogers and a second penalty (Cantorna).

Half-time: USA 13 Australia 0

The Wallaroos must take the plaudits for their second-half performance.

Jay Tregonning was prepared to remove his most experienced player, Liz Patu, as early as the 46th minute.

Another penalty pushed the Eagles further ahead. (16-0)

Now at last Australia got the scoreboard moving. A fine 50-22 kick from Arabella McKenzie started a move that ended with a try. The TMO was happy that a final pass wasn’t knocked on (16-7). Try Georgie Friedrichs.

The last try fell to Ashley Marsters eight minutes from time.

Rob Cain will be asking how the last three scores all came to the opposition. His back-line had all the (English) experience: (10 Cantorna, 11 Clapp, 12 Howard, 13 Kelter, 14 Detiveaux), but even Kelter was kept quiet by a hard-hitting defence.

Result USA 16 Australia 14

This was the sort of tight finish that gives a new tournament a good name

Black Ferns

The advance the Black Ferns have made is plain to see. We need only compare the faces that looked so uncertain on tour last autumn with their present smiles to appreciate the sound work Wayne Smith had done over the past few weeks.

Simon Middleton did warn English fans that they could expect a very different opposition when they next meet. Wise words.

But now the analysts can get to work assessing the new strengths and (especially) the remaining weaknesses in the Ferns’ armament.

Third Round Fixtures

Date: 18 June

Australia v Canada
Kick-off: 02.30 (BST)

Location: Semenoff Stadium, Whangarei

New Zealand v USA
Kick-off: 05.00 (BST)

Location: Semenoff Stadium, Whangarei