Rugby World Cup: Black Ferns come from behind to beat Australia 41-17

New Zealand have extended their winning streak over Australia
New Zealand have extended their winning streak over Australia
©World Rugby

New Zealand 41-17 Australia, Auckland

Portia Woodman and Ruby Tui shared five tries between them as New Zealand came from behind to beat Australia 41-17 in the Rugby World Cup opener at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday.

Playing in front of a record crowd 34,235, which is the most for a women's Rugby World Cup game, the Black Ferns were trailing 0-17 in the opening 30 minutes of the game but they ensured they did not panic and controlled most of the final 50 minutes to start the campaign with a victory.

The result also meant New Zealand have maintained their winning streak over Australia in the World Cup after previously defeating them 36-3 in 2002 and 32-5 in 2010.

The opening points of the game came in the 13th minute as the Wallaroos as they opted for a quick tap after being awarded a penalty and Bienne Terita on her just second Test finished in the corner but the extras went wide.

Three minutes later, the visitors extended their tally as Ivania Wong collected a wide pass and sped for 60m to score but this time Arabella McKenzie got the conversion right to make it 0-12 early in the game.

It was all one side traffic in the opening half hour as 19-year-old Terita completed her second try following a line out silencing the home crowd. McKenzie this time missed a tough kick as Australia were placed 0-17 as their hope of beating the Black Ferns for the first time were riding high.

New Zealand made a comeback in the 31st minute as Ruby Tui set up the attack at the end of which Joanah Ngan-Woo dived from close range that Kendra Cockseage improved to make it 7-17.

With the break approaching, a poor clearing kick from McKenzie allowed New Zealand with an opportunity as Tui gathered and sent Woodman for the first of her three tries allowing the gap to come down to five points at the end of the opening half.

The scores were levelled in the 46th minute as quick hands from Nga-Woo freed Woodman for her second try and the momentum shifted towards the hosts as Australia were down to 14 players temporarily with Ivania Wong sin-binned for a deliberate knock on in the 53rd minute.

As a double setback the Australian skipper Shannon Parry also was yellow carded for a no-arms tackle as they were down to 13 players and in the 56th minute Awhina Tangen-Wainohu after Tui once again counter attacked and brought the ball close. Holmes successfully converted the try to make it 24-17.

The Black Ferns extended their lead to 14 points as Woodman completed her hat-trick after collecting an offload from Stacey Fluhler, who went past a couple of defenders. It was a matter of time before Tui, who was brilliant from the outset scored a try of her own after collecting a stiff pass making it 36-17.

With six minutes left in the game, New Zealand extended their winning margin as Mikaele-Tu’u's pass sent Tui over the line for her second as the Black Ferns made a terrific fightback to register a 24 point victory.

Team line up:

Black Ferns: 1. Phillipa Love, 2. Luka Connor, 3. Amy Rule, 4. Joanah Ngan-Woo, 5. Chelsea Bremner, 6. Charmaine McMenamin, 7. Sarah Hirini, 8. Liana Mikaele-Tu’u, 9. Kendra Cocksedge, 10. Ruahei Demant (captain), 11. Portia Woodman, 12. Amy du Plessis, 13. Stacey Fluhler, 14. Ruby Tui, 15. Renee Holmes.

Replacements: 16. Georgia Ponsonby, 17. Awhina Tangen-Wainohu, 18. Santo Taumata, 19. Maiakawanakaulani Roos, 20. Kendra Reynolds, 21. Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu, 22. Hazel Tubic, 23. Logo-I-Pulotu Lemapu Atai’i Sylvia Brunt.

Australia: 1. Liz Patu, 2. Adiana Talakai, 3. Bridie O’Gorman, 4. Sera Naiqama, 5. Atasi Lafai, 6. Emily Chancellor, 7. Shannon Parry (captain), 8. Grace Hamilton, 9. Iliseva Batibasaga, 10. Arabella McKenzie, 11. Ivania Wong, 12. Sharni Williams, 13. Georgina Friedrichs, 14, Bienne Terita, 15. Pauline Piliae-Rasabale.

Replacements: 16. Ashley Marsters, 17. Emily Robinson, 18. Eva Karpani, 19. Michaela Leonard, 20. Grace Kemp, 21. Layne Morgan, 22. Trilleen Pomare, 23. Lori Cramer.