Black Ferns thump Wallaroos in O’Reilly Cup try-fest

Two historic losses set the stage for the first 2024 O'Reilly Cup clash on Auckland's north shore, providing plenty of an edge for both New Zealand and Australia.

The game started with a tight effort, but quickly turned into a landslide victory for the Black Ferns who took a huge lead in the first half and never looked back, claiming a 67-19 win.

A late attack 40 seconds into the New Zealand match resulted in an Australian knockdown and an early attacking opportunity for the hosts.

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The Black Ferns' dominance of the scrum earned them two penalties in the opening two kicks and provided a platform for Kaipo Olsen-Baker to charge over the line for the opening try.

Both defenses were having trouble containing the opposition's attacking threats, and the stage play proved to be profitable both ways.

Arabella McKenzie found a gaping hole in the New Zealand defense in the seventh minute and ran in for the try untouched. Converting her own try leveled the scores at seven.

It was then New Zealand's turn to attack thanks to a deflected clearance. Sylvia Brunt danced inside two defenders and pulled two more over the goal line to restore New Zealand's lead. Renee Holmes turned again.

The teams found their feet defensively after this effort and while some runs were threatening, no one was able to create clean attacks.

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That was until New Zealand had the ball in their hands and appeared to stretch the Australian defense by passing the ball wide. Once in the wide channel, Rene Holmes delivered the killer kick and while the full-back failed to collect the ball, Mirirangi Paul was on hand to pick up the scraps and score the try.

Ball was in her second place soon after as the Black Ferns once again isolated Ball and her counterpart Desiree Miller wide.

The focus on the collapse grew throughout the half, with five players winning turns in the first half hour and Olsen Becker leading the pack.

Then came Sylvia Brant's time. A dynamic second five and eight produced successive game-breaking runs, resulting in two quick tries, both of old Black Ferns quality. The first was completed at the pace of Liana Mikaele-Tu'u, while the second saw Georgia Ponsonby on the receiving end of the final offload.

The electric Katelyn Fahakulo was the next star for the hosts, the winger tracking down an errant pass behind her only to accelerate around the defensive line and place a kick behind the covering defenders that won the race for her, finishing off the ball. Fantastic individual effort under the posts.

By the time the first 40 minutes were over, New Zealand led 45-7.

Chryss Viliko got the scoring started in the second half on a move off the goal line down the blind side. This made the score equal to 50 after the missed conversion.

A hat-trick for Merangi Ball was scored in the 47th minute, with an unconventional effort to cross the goal line as the winger fumbled and recovered the ball on her knees.

The Wallaroos didn't finish scoring their own points, and Maya Stewart was not stopped as she found space wide.

Sylvia Brunt quickly put New Zealand back in front and was stopped near the goal line, and after a penalty, New Zealand took a quick kick and found a line to dive through to score.

The Wallaroos responded in the blink of an eye through Arabella McKenzie, who held on to the ball long enough to apply downward pressure down the ground. The playmaker converted it and tried it again.


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After calling counters

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New Zealand's attacking ambition only subsided momentarily in the first hour of the match, but long pauses in the final 20 minutes slowed their momentum.

16 minutes passed without New Zealand trying before Kennedy Simon was tripped five meters wide. This will be the final chapter of the game. Final score: 67-19.


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