Sunday 22 July 2018

Ruthless Black Ferns flex their muscles

Marlie Packer of England. Photo: Sportsfile
Marlie Packer of England. Photo: Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Canada were the latest team to feel the wrath of New Zealand as the Black Ferns demolished the third-ranked team in the world to cement their place as top seeds heading into the semi-final.

Their 48-5 victory, in which Linda Itunu scored a hat-trick, sets up a last-four clash with the USA whose late fight against England earned them the best runner-up spot.

New Zealand's facile win over Canada, who were beaten finalists at the 2014 World Cup, again highlighted the lopsided nature of the women's game.

It is not inconceivable that they will have to wait until the final to face a realistic test and the same logic applies to England. The pair are on course to meet in the decider.

The ruthless Black Ferns scored 35 tries in their three pool games, conceding just three for a remarkable points difference of 196.

Defending champions England had their 47-26 victory wrapped up before they took their foot off the pedal and allowed the USA to secure the precious bonus point.

Marlie Packer crossed the whitewash twice but a late rally from the Americans, led by Kris Thomas and Kate Zackary, moved their side on to 11 points overall which set up their semi-final against New Zealand.

England will meet France after they dumped hosts Ireland out of the tournament in the final game at Dublin before it moves to Belfast.

Elsewhere, Spain finished their campaign on a high with an impressive 22-8 victory over Italy.

The Italians endured a wretched tournament from start to finish but in Spain's case, they will hope that the win can be a platform to continue to develop the sport in their country.

Ireland's pool rivals Australia also found it tough against a plucky Japan outfit but the Wallaroos eventually got the job done, winning 29-15, with Samantha Treherne scoring a brace of tries.

Hong Kong scored their first points of the tournament after 102 minutes of rugby but it was scant consolation as Wales eased to a 39-15 victory.

Jess Kavanagh-Williams and Sioned Harries crossed twice each.

Irish Independent

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