New Zealand beat Canada 28-0 and the USA beat Australia 16-14 in round two of the Pacific Fours.
USA 16 Australia 14
The US dominated the first half in this game racing into a 13-0 lead
Alev Kelter and Jennine Detiveaux made a big impact in contactm both of them having joined the squad this week.
The boot of Gabby Cantorna, after a brilliant steal from Hope Rogers at midfield, gave the USA the lead and a few minutes later, Australia’s Emily Chancellor was given a yellow card for collapsing the maul near the try line, giving the USA a player advantage and an open door for Rogers to charge hard into contact and score ta try.
Cantorna added another penalty for a comfortable half time lead.
Coming into the second half Australia stepped up a gear with the injection of Arabella McKenzie alongside two new front-rowers in Madison Schuck and Eva Karpani. Cantorna did extend the lead with another penalty but the Wallaroos then burst into life.
The first try for Australia came in the way of a neat tip ball from Trilleen Pomare that landed in the hands of Georgina Friedrichs who crashed over the line for her first try of the Pacific Four Series.
Australia then used their maul as a weapon to put pressure on the USA as Ashley Marsters crashed over the line ten minutes to go to set up a grandstand finish.
The chasers now found themselves with a line out and ball within striking distance, but the USA were able to force the turnover and they held onto possession and kicked the ball into touch for a two-point win.
USA Head Coach Rob Cain said:
“Credit to Australia, they really tested both our nerve and skill sets in that final 20 minutes, to see the game out really showed our toughness today. The defensive effort was immense today, it was great win. We will enjoy that one. It’s great to not just get the win, but to also show some key improvements across the areas that didn’t fire from last week. It was a very commanding performance for 55-60 minutes, we created a lot of pressure and suffocated Australia, and we won the physical battle.
New Zealand 28 Canada 0
New Zealand made it two wins out of two with this fine win over Canada.
As the rain held off, Canada hacked away in the forward exchanges but seemed flat and often inaccurate on attack and had to hang on as the Black Ferns subs all offered good value.
The Black Ferns opened by swinging straight onto attack, first five Hazel Tubic mixing play up nicely on attack and prop Pip Love and the locking duo of Maia Roos and Joanah Ngan-Woo muscling up to their counterparts. Tafito Lafaele again built on her promise as a No 7.
Despite having set-piece ascendancy, the Black Ferns could not ram home their dominance, having just two Tubic penalty goals to show for it by halftime. There was the odd handling error, while prop Tanya Kalounivale, who was one of two Black Ferns (the other being Kaipo Olsen-Baker) to be yellow-carded, lost the ball over the line. Passing seemed to be a challenge in the windy conditions.
Left wing Ayesha Leti-I’iga punched holes close to the ruck and in the wider channels and duly took away the player of the match award.
But the other wing, Ruby Tui, broke the game open six minutes into the second spell with a marvellous piece of individual skill, chipping and regathering to score the first of her two tries in the corner. Tui again ran hard and effected the odd turnover.
While the Black Ferns were coming second in the penalty count, they were showing more signs of fluidity, continuity, cohesion and innovation on attack, if not always the desired accuracy. Brunt was a ball of energy off the bench, both with and without the ball.
Roos scored a try off a lineout move set up by Amy Rule, and then stayed on the field after copping a knock to the knee as the Black Ferns were out of subs.
Another strong burst by Leti-I’iga led by a try to sub Chelsea Bremner, but the final flourish went to Tui, who completed her brace with a fine finish off a break down the left flank by du Plessis, who was battling cramp at the time.
Next Saturday is the third and final Pac Four match day, at Semenoff Stadium, Whangārei. The Australian Wallaroos will face Canada, before the Black Ferns lock horns with the USA Eagles.