The Black Ferns have made a successful start to the inaugural Women’s Super Series in San Diego, beating Canada 35-20 in an entertaining match this morning.
Black Ferns coach Glenn Moore named four new caps in the squad, and it also saw the return to action for World Cup winners Carla Hohepa and Toka Natua.
Playing into a stiff breeze in the first half, the Black Ferns dominated the opening stages. Eloise Blackwell scored the opening try after some great work by the forwards, with the flanker bashing over after some excellent decision making,
However, any thoughts this was going to be a walkover were dispelled only five minutes later when Canadian winger Elissa Alarie sailed through a huge gap on the counter attack to score under the posts. Brianna Miller’s conversion locked the scores up.
From there the Canadians dominated the game, and it has to be said that Hohepa’s 24th minute try was against the run of play. Miller kept the Canadians in touch with two penalties, and the score was 20-13 at halftime.
The Black Ferns made a perfect start in the second half, with Chelsea Alley scoring off a slick move off a scrum. The Canadians worked really hard to score another one of their own, going through over a dozen phases before Sophie de Goede crashed over from close range.
However, rising star winger Ayesha Leti-l’iga provided a crucial try after 60 minutes to give the Black Ferns a two score lead. The Wellingtonian showed stunning strength to shake off a couple of tackles and score in the corner.
The end of the game turned messy as the Canadians threw everything at the Black Ferns, but to no avail. They were often their own worst enemies, though, botching a series of lineouts with poor throws and handling.
It wasn’t a perfect performance by the Black Ferns, and Moore will be concerned with the scrum and lack of discipline around the ruck especially. The standouts were Alley, who had a fine game, and Cocksedge who was her usual energetic self.
In the other game played today, England easily dispatched the Black Ferns’ next opponents, the USA. They play the host nation on Wednesday NZT.
Black Ferns 35 (E Blackwell, C Hohepa, C Alley, A Leti-l’iga tries; K Cocksedge 3 pen, 3 con)
Canada 20 (E Alarie, S de Goede tries; B Miller 2 pen, 2 con)
HT: 20-13 NZ