New Zealand and Canada opened with big wins.
NEW ZEALAND 44 WALES 12
Wales had their moments in the opening game at Billings Park. Their forwards in particular held – and at times had the better of – the much bigger New Zealand pack, but the Ferns backs were always ready to make the most of every opportunity.
Most of the first 20 minutes were at the Welsh end, and New Zealand were soon ahead. Portia Woodman found space out wide early on, stretching the Welsh line, and putting Selica Winiata in for the first score after eight minutes. A long period of pressure followed final ended with a second try from Stacey Waaka midway through the half.
After this difficult start, Wales began to fight back into the game and a period of Welsh pressure followed. The Ferns pack certainly had some problems coping with the Welsh maul, and after some excellent forward play, Wales were on the Ferns line. However, the Ferns defence used their experience, eventually won a penalty, kicked clear, and within a minute Winiata was over for her second try. The half ended with a well-taken interception try by Renee Wickliffe. 20-0 at the break.
The pattern continued into the second period. More good work by the Welsh pack, but with the Ferns backs ready for any half chance. Ten minutes in, Cocksedge seized on a loose ball, kicked ahead, and set up Woodman for their fifth try. Blackwell then added a first try for the forwards a couple of minutes later. 32-0
But Wales were not finished. A huge run from inside centre Hannah Jones deep into the NZ 22 set up Sioned Harries for Wales' first try, converted by Elinor Snowsill. Winiata added her hat-trick try shortly afterwards, but some more Welsh pressure first resulted in Cocksedge getting a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on, intercepting a pass from 17-year old Lleucu George that could well have put Harries in for a second try, before the Welsh pack drove over for a well-deserved second try.
Being a player down did not seem to concern the Ferns, however, as Winiata added her fourth try to complete the scoring, and give the Ferns a 44-12 victory.
NEW ZEALAND: Selica Winiata (Manawatu); Portia Woodman (Counties Manukau), Stacey Waaka (Waikato), Kelly Brazier (Bay of Plenty), Renee Wickliffe (Counties Manukau); Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali (Counties Manukau), Kendra Cocksedge (Canterbury); Toka Natua (Waikato), Fiao'o Faamausili (Auckland) (capt), Aldora Itunu (Auckland), Eloise Blackwell (Auckland), Rebecca Wood (North Harbour), Charmaine Smith (North Harbour), Sarah Goss (Manawatu), Aroha Savage (Counties Manukau).
Replacements: Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate (Counties Manukau), Sosoli Talawadua (Waikato), Aotearoa Mata'u (Counties Manukau), Lesley Ketu (Bay of Plenty), Charmaine McMenamin (Auckland), Kristina Sue (Manawatu), Theresa Fitzpatrick (Auckland), Carla Hohepa (Waikato).
WALES: Dyddgu Hywel (Scarlets); Elen Evans (RGC), Gemma Rowland (Dragons), Hannah Jones (Scarlets), Jasmine Joyce (Scarlets); Elinor Snowsill (Dragons), Keira Bevan (Ospreys); Caryl Thomas (Scarlets), Carys Phillips (Ospreys) (capt), Amy Evans (Ospreys), Rebecca Rowe (Dragons), Mel Clay (Ospreys), Alisha Butchers (Scarlets), Rachel Taylor (RGC), Sioned Harries (Scarlets).
Replacements: Kelsey Jones (Ospreys), Cerys Hale (Dragons), Meg York (Dragons), Siwan Lillicrap (Ospreys), Lleucu George (Scarlets), Sian Moore (Dragons), Robyn Wilkins (Ospreys), Jodie Evans (Scarlets).
CANADA 98 HONG KONG 0
The result was everything that could be expected from the 3rd ranked team playing the 23rd. Some 16 tries, a record score for Canada in all, the largest win in the World Cup for any team since 2002, 41 points and 5 tries for Magali Harvey.
At times the score risked being even larger, but Hong Kong dug in and competed right to the final whistle, even getting within the Canadian 22 in the final quarter.
But the Canadian scores kept coming, from the 5th minute when Andrea Burk opened the scoring to the final play, when Harvey scored the final try, Canada kept looking for points, knowing that with New Zealand in the same pool one of the world’s top three teams will need the best runner-up spot to make the final four – so every point mattered.
The crowd were behind Hong Kong from the start, and they could be very competitive in the loose, but in set pieces the sheer size of the Canadians was something they could not overcome.
Hong Kong will have learnt a lot from this, but next up is New Zealand.
Canada: Elissa Alarie (Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue RFC/Westshore RFC); Magali Harvey (Club de Rugby de Quebec), Alex Tessier (Montreal Barbarians), Andrea Burk (Capilano RFC), Frederique Rajotte (Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue RFC); Emily Belchos (Westshore RFC), Lori Josephson (Aurora Barbarians); Carolyn McEwen (Burnaby Lake RFC), Laura Russell (Toronto Nomads/Cowichan RFC), DaLeaka Menin (Calgary Hornets), Kayla Mack (Saskatoon Wild Oats), Latoya Blackwood (Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue RFC/Westshore RFC), Jacey Grusnick (Barrhaven Scottish), Karen Paquin (Club de Rugby de Quebec/Castaway Wanderers), Kelly Russell (Toronto Nomads/Cowichan RFC) (capt).
Replacements: Jane Kirby (Highland Fergus Rugby Club), Brittany Kassil (Guelph Redcoats), Olivia DeMerchant (Woodstock Wildmen/Castaway Wanderers), Tyson Beukeboom (Aurora Barbarians/Cowichan RFC), Cindy Nelles (Belleville Bulldogs), Brianna Miller (Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue RFC/Westshore RFC), Amanda Thornborough (Westshore RFC), Brittany Waters (Meraloma Athletic Club/Castaway Wanderers).
Hong Kong: 1. WONG Yuen-shan, 2. SO Hoi-ting, Karen, 3. LEE Ka-shun, 4. CHAN Ka-yan, 5. CHOW Mei-nam (captain), 6. CHENG Ka-chi, Christy, 7. CHAN Tsz-ching, Agnes, 8. Amelie SEURE, 9. HO Wai-on, Jessica, 10. Rose HOPEWELL-FONG Siu-lan, 11. CHONG Ka-yan, 12. Natasha OLSON-THORNE, 13. Adrienne GARVEY (vice captain), 14. POON Pak-yan, Aggie, 15. Colleen TJOSVOLD,
Replacements :16. SIU Wing-ni, Winnie, 17. LAU Nga-wun, Tammy, 18. PUN Wai-yan, 19. Christine GORDON, 20. TSANG Sin-yan, 21. MAK Ho-yee, Chloe, 22. Kelsie BOUTTLE, 23. CHOR Lik-fung, Laurel.