Pool A: NZ on top as SA achieve first win

(IRB.COM) Tuesday 24 August 2010
 
 Pool A: NZ on top as SA achieve first win
South Africa celebrate their historic victory - Photo: Martin Seras Lima

Defending champions New Zealand proved too strong for Australia, while South Africa have written their own piece of Women's Rugby World Cup history with their first ever win at the seventh attempt on this stage.

NEW ZEALAND 32-5 AUSTRALIA

Australia gave everything against the much fancied New Zealand, but were on the wrong end of a ruthlessly professional display from the Black Ferns who clinched their their second win at Women's Rugby World Cup 2010.

Skilfully exploiting the elements, defending champions New Zealand did the simple things well in the first half and simply ground RWC Sevens 2009 winners Australia down to take an insurmountable lead.

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The Wallaroos were far from disgraced as they went in search of a first ever win over New Zealand, and the second half was a more even affair. It was just that New Zealand were too professional and too strong.

The win means the Black Ferns top Pool A with a maximum 10 points, whereas Australia face a huge final fixture against South Africa, sitting only one point above their day three opponents after they overcame Wales earlier in the day.

As was the case on Friday, the wind was gusting the length of the Surrey Sports Park pitch and the Black Ferns, playing with the elements at their back, were quickly kicking tactically to pin Australia pack.

The Wallaroos, as a result, were forced to spend most of the opening few minutes defending gallantly and kicking to relieve the pressure only resulted in minimal territorial gains.

The first try wasn't long in coming as New Zealand executed a perfect catch and drive and Australia were powerless to prevent hooker Fiao'o Fa'amausili touching down.

The pressure from the Black Ferns was incessant and a second try followed on 22 minutes when a neat inside pass from Anna Richards found wing Carla Hohepa on the burst and she powered over under the posts with Mahoney's conversion making the score 12-0.

Flanker Justine Lavea promptly added a third as she ripped the ball out of a maul and burst clear to score as yet another downfield kick created chaos. When Lavea added a second to secure the bonus point on the half hour, the writing was on the wall for the Wallaroos despite their courageous defence.

Showing incredible spirit, and no little skill, the Wallaroos camped near the New Zealand line as half time approached. Captain Cheryl Soon very nearly made the line as she darted away from a five metre scrum but lost the ball in contact to end the threat.

The Black Ferns started the second period in style as neat work from the backs saw wing Victoria Grant exchange passes with Huriana Manuel before touching down for the fifth try, but the Wallaroos showed great heart to hit back with prop Lindsay Morgan battling her way over from close range to finally breach the New Zealand line.

With the wind in their favour, Australia threw everything they had at New Zealand but the Black Ferns clinically soaked up the pressure before hitting the Wallaroos on the break with Grant returning the earlier favour and putting Manuel in for a well executed try.

At 32-5 with 15 minutes to go, New Zealand had this one in the bag and they duly closed out a professional performance and now look forward to a final match of the pool stages against Wales on Saturday.

POST MATCH REACTION

New Zealand coach Brian Evans: "It was pretty frustrating to be honest, we just kept turning the ball over. We created some good stuff and I thought by the end we were pretty dominant to be honest, but we would have liked a cleaner performance. That's how it goes some days at the office and fair play to the Aussies, they kept coming and coming.

"I think because of that Sevens victory (Australia beat New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup Seven final) they had last year there's a bit more on it than usual. They've obviously developed their players and their team and were obviously pretty up for it, so it was good to get a win. One thing I did notice today was our physical conditioning, we looked really good towards the end and strong and fit, so that was awesome."

New Zealand captain Melissa Ruscoe: "It certainly wasn't an easy win, we know whenever we go up against Australia, our old foes, it's a battle and a half and it showed out there today. I was happy with the way the girls played individually, there were a lot of individuals who shone out there and Justine Lavea was definitely one of those with two tries. Unfortunately we weren't clinical enough with the ball, though, today.

On 16 consecutive wins in World Cups and the Black Ferns' secret:

"It's the black jersey to be honest, we had some messages today from the All Blacks and that really brought it home that the support is there from them and the rest of the country. Just putting on that black jersey is a proud moment and we don't get that many opportunities so we want to make the most of it."

Australia coach John Manenti: "We knew the wind was going to be a factor but, in fairness, the Kiwis played it very well and kept us hemmed in. They're a big and powerful side and defending on your try line for 20 or 30 minutes takes its toll."

"I thought at the turnaround that 22 points was attainable. Had we come out and scored early, it could have been different but they got a couple of turnovers against the run of play, turned us around and scored first."

Australia captain Cheryl Soon: "It was pretty tough in the first half playing against the wind and they really utilised it. In the second half, I don't think that we really did. Their set piece is really clinical and the backs have a lot of go forward. I think our ball security let us down a little bit in the end and you can't afford to lose a lot of ball and expect to win the game."

On the Black Ferns being the side to beat:

"They're the defending world champions and they're the benchmark in Women's Rugby. We knew we were going to be up for a huge challenge. Unfortunately, we didn't come through with the goods in the end but we will work on it for the next one. We will fix what we need to fix and go forward from there."

WALES 10-15 SOUTH AFRICA

South Africa had cause to celebrate after beating Wales 15-10 for their first ever Women's Rugby World Cup victory in an entertaining Pool A encounter at a blustery Surrey Sports Park in Guildford on Tuesday.

Tries from Namhla Siyolo, Charmaine Kayser and a wonder try from full back Zandile Nojoko were enough to seal the historic win, despite the South Africans being under strong pressure from Wales for much of the match.

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After a bright start from Wales, South Africa found themselves defending in their own 22, giving away several penalties for infringements at the breakdown. However, kicking into a strong wind, Wales failed to take advantage with Non Evans' effort sailing just wide of the posts.

Despite playing into the wind, Wales continued to attack the strong-tackling South African defence, but it was their opponents who stole possession and looked to counterattack with some fast-flowing running rugby, engineered through fly half Zenay Jordaan and strong inside centre Daphne Scheepers.

South Africa opened the scoring through lively number 8 Siyolo after a spell of pressure in the Wales 22. Wing Yolanda Meiring first kicked a South African penalty, which Wales failed to deal with after it fell short of the posts.

The South African forwards then managed to turn the ball over and Jordaan spread play wide for the powerful Siyolo to crash through two defenders to give her side a 5-0 lead.

The try instilled confidence in South Africa, who began to showcase some smart back moves which Wales struggled to contain, losing flanker Catrina Nicholas to the sin-bin in the process.

South Africa took full advantage of their player advantage, with the backs spreading the ball wide and at pace for wing Kayser to score in the corner for a 10-0 lead on the stroke of half time.

Wales began the second half as they did the first, putting pressure on South Africa. With the strong wind now behind the Welsh, clever kicks from fly half Naomi Thomas kept their opponents pinned back in their own 22.

Despite 20 minutes of constant pressure, the resolute South African defence survived and were always looking to run the ball from their own 22 rather than kick to the relative safety of touch.

Nojoko then produced the move of the match. Receiving the ball from outside centre Lorinda Brown on the halfway line, Nojoko showed superb individual skill, outpacing several Welsh defenders and evading tackles by dummy switching her way to the try-line to give South Africa a 15-0 lead with as many minutes left.

Wales responded with a penalty by full back Non Evans from 40 metres, reducing the deficit to 15-3. Moments later, from a scrum in the South African 22, Wales spread the ball wide to replacement Elen Evans, who cut a beautiful line to score beneath the posts, bringing the final score to 15-10.

South Africa's historic first victory, which came at the seventh attempt, put them third in Pool A ahead of their meeting with Australia on Saturday, while Wales had to settle for a losing bonus point and will now look to a meeting with defending champions New Zealand targeting a first win to avoid finishing bottom.

POST MATCH REACTION

South Africa Denver Wannies: "Fantastic, I think a lot of excitement from the team, we put a lot of planning and thought into this game. After the set-back against New Zealand we said to ourselves that we had to come back, to work hard, to look at certain parts of our game and the defence was one of those that we spent a lot of time on. We also had to trust our structure and we did just that, apart from the one try they scored down the middle. We did well defensively and that kept us in the game."

On a first ever World Cup win for South Africa:

"It is quite significant. I think the platform has been laid with the Sevens performance and the vibe that we managed to develop as a team. But in terms of the belief back home and the broader picture of women's rugby, women's rugby in South Africa depends a lot on this team's performance in this World Cup - in terms of people coming to the party, having a better understanding of what the game is about and believing that South African women can play rugby."

South Africa's Cebisa Kula said: "We're very happy, but we not only came here to win this game but we want to make winning our culture like other teams. So we are just going to forget this win and try to get another win.

"We had the chance to implement out game structure, although we had some discipline problems, but we managed to put in what we have been working on and that's what we'll build on."

Wales coach Jason Lewis: "Very tough to take; tough to take because we probably gave the game away, rather than they took it away. Credit to them, they took some good tries and maybe there the lesson for us.

"The first 25 minutes we were in possession all the time, we virtually didn't spend any time down in our half. The odd moments were down there we end up conceding two tries. We definitely played better into the wind than previously.

Wales hooker Lowri Harries: "It was just a hard game, they were so fast. Silly mistakes cost us points. Playing into the wind we went out there thinking we'd have to play safe and smart - kicks have to go into touch. Some didn't and it cost us points.

"We've just got to forget that game now, and it's a big focus for the next one. New Zealand are a big strong side and we've just got to go out there with a good rugby plan and keep out heads up."