Source: Fiona Goodall - World Rugby via Getty Images

Black Ferns Make a Statement

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Pacific Four Series – Round 3

New Zealand v USA

The Black Ferns finished their home tournament undefeated, playing the Eagles off the field with a display that warned future opponents of the standards they used to achieve.

Despite the rain, most of their game was in good working order. Only the line-out remained a weakness, but the weather can take part of the blame. For the rest their handling, repossessions, off-loads and defences showed how far they have come under Wayne Smith’s tutelage.

Though she didn’t win the Player of the Match award, Ayesha Leti-I’iga was in devastating form. She had a try in the first minute, exploiting a missed tackle in the centre and powered straight past her opponent.

The Eagles did what they were unable to later, they counter-attacked. Megan Foster kicked a penalty.

But the next moment Joanah Ngan-Woo spotted an unguarded ruck, was through and fed Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu for a second try within five minutes.

The performance of Marino-Tauhinu, the actual award winner, made you wonder how it took the selectors so long to give her a starting slot.

The Black Ferns’ eye for the unguarded ruck proved fruitful, an unspoken credit to the coach.

The Eagles had their moments, but handling errors and poorly aimed kicks hindered progress. One area was strong, the set scrum. It led to a second penalty for Foster.

On the half-hour another dropped ball was exploited by Renee Holmes from a long way out. That was another feature of American weakness, the lack of defensive cover.

Half-time 29-6

The pattern continued. The Eagles won three powerful scrums, but couldn’t exploit any of them. Indeed they followed the trend of the series in failing to add another point after the break.

The Black Ferns could play with full confidence, more deft off-loads making defence a tricky business. Kendra Reynolds ran in from 40 metres for a rapturously received try.

A slick reverse pass from Marino-Tauhinu gave Leti-Iiga her second try; her dummy was perfection.

Not even a yellow card for a high tackle from Krystal Murray could upset the Ferns’ onward march. It’s unfortunate that some in the crowd booed as she left the field.

A lovely run inside and outside by Chelsea Semple gave Renee Wickcliffe the final try of the day.

Memories of a recent tour could now be completely forgotten.

Result: NZ 50 USA 6
Player of the Match: Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu



1 Love 2 Delamere* 3 Perese 4 Ngan-Woo 5 C. Bremner 6 A. Bremner 7 Reynolds 8 Mikaele-Tu’u 9 Marino-Tauhinu 10 Demant (captain) 11 Leti-I’iga 12 Brunt 13 Du Plessis 14 Wickliffe 15 Holmes


16 Ponsonby 17 Murray 18 Anderson* 19 Roos 20 Lafaele 21 Cocksedge 22 Semple 23 Tubic
* uncapped


1 Rogers 2 Kitlinski 3 James 4 Matyas 5 Sommer 6 Cairns 7 Johnson 8 Zackary (captain) 9 Waters 10 Foster 11 Clapp 12 Howard 13 Kelter 14 Feury 15 Mataitoga


16 Treder 17 Learned 18 Jacoby 19 Aschenbrucker 20 Perris-Redding 21 Kahele 22 Cantorna 23 Bizer


Referee: Julianne Zussman (Can)
ARs: Amber McLachlan (Aus) and Tyler Miller (Aus)
TMO: Chris Assmus (Can)
with thanks to

Table ​​​                      P​     W​      L​       B    Pts

New Zealand​​          3      3      0          3      15
Canada​​​                    3      2      1           1       9
USA​​​                         3       ​1      2          0      4
Australia  ​​               3      0     3           1  ​     1

It will be the sad fate of the side finishing fourth in this region to be condemned to Tier 2 of the WXV, away from the high fliers.

After their win over Australia the Eagles came up against the world champions ranked fifth in the world, an all-time high for them.

Rob Cain decided he needed to check out his alternative options so at No 10 Gabby Cantorna went to the bench after an outstanding performance with the boot last time around.

Smith made nine changes, introducing a number of newer options to his starting Fifteen, including Natalie Delamere and Marinu-Tauhinu who pushed the most capped player Kendra Cocksedge to the bench. Kaipo Olsen-Baker and Ariana Bayler were both out injured, and Ruby Tui was back with the Sevens squad.