PAC4: Wins for Ferns and Canada

New Zealand beat United States 57-5 and Canada beat Australia 33-14 on Day 2 of the 2024 Pacific Fours.

Published by John Birch, May 11th, 2024

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PAC4: Wins for Ferns and Canada

After the opening CanAm test two weeks ago, the action moved to the southern hemisphere as New Zealand and Australia opened their campaigns.

New Zealand 57 USA 5

A hat-trick inside 16 minutes by Mererangi Paul helped the Black Ferns to a big 57-5 win over the United States in their Pacific Four Series opener in Hamilton in front of a crowd of 5583 at Waikato Stadium.

New Zealand dominated from the first scrum, deep inside their own half, which set up the a phase of play leading first try from Amy du Plessis go over after less than two minutes

Paul had a field day in her first start at fullback, the 25-year-old looking in complete control despite her positional switch.

Between an offload from Ruby Tui put her over for her first try of the day in the fifth minute, and a pinpoint cross-kick from debutant Maia Joseph helping to her hat-trick, there was also an audacious chip and chase try.

With Vahaakolo adding a 65-metre score of her own between Paul’s hat-trick, it was 29-0 after a little over quarter of an hour, but the scoring slowed and at halftime the lead was 36-0.

The US came out much stronger in the second half and were rewarded for their efforts with a try to Freda Tafuna in the 63rd minute.

A strong finish to proceedings saw New Zealand past 50 points, aided by some good kicking from Hannah King, who came on for the final half hour.

New Zealand: Amy du Plessis try 2min, Mererangi Paul tries 5min, 10min, 16min, Katelyn Vahaakolo try 8min, Maama Mo'onia Vaipulu try 26min, Ruby Tui try 55min, Layla Sae try 73min, Patrica Maliepo try 75min; Ruahei Demant 3 con, Hannah King 3 con)

USA: Freda Tafuna try 63min).

Canada 33 Australia 14

Canada took a 33-14 win over the Australia in their second match of the 2024 Pacific Four Series in Sydney, with a strong showing from Canada’s front row and two-try performances for Sara Cline and McKinley Hunt.

The Canadian victory moved them above France into third place in the world rankings and secured Canada’s spot in WXV 1 later this year, which is being hosted on home soil in Vancouver.

Cline opened the scoring for Canada off a maul with her first try of her international career, which was converted by Sophie de Goede. Canada scored a second try in similar fashion to go up 12-0, this time from Hunt.

Australia responded in the 13th minute, but their try was disallowed due to a knock on. They successfully got on the board in the 20th minute however, cutting Canada’s lead to 12-7.

Canada scored once more in the first half, with Cline striking for a second time off a rolling maul, once again converted by de Goede to give Canada a 19-7 lead after 40 minutes of play.

With an exceptional performance by Canada’s forward pack, Hunt scored her second try in the opening minutes of the second half, with another conversion from de Goede.

“If you give our forwards space around the breakdown, they are going to take it,” said Head Coach Kevin Rouet. “I am very proud of our maul and scrumming ability in Canada. It is important for us to showcase that against any of our opponents. I am very happy with how our whole team played today.”

Australia seemed to gain some momentum in the 47th minute, with a penalty try awarded to the Wallaroos and a yellow card to Canada’s Madison Grant. Canada continued to defend and extend their lead despite being down a player, with DaLeaka Menin charging between the posts to add five for Canada, de Goede’s fourth conversion of the game gave Canada a 33-14 lead.

Julia Schell and de Goede both had prime scoring chances in the final minutes, but Australia held them up prior to the final whistle.

“Our backs played well today too,” commented de Goede. “They set up the forwards in areas of the pitch to go ahead and score. It was a full team effort today.”