New Zealand have embarrassed the Wallaroos and reinforced their Rugby World Cup credentials with an 52-5 O’Reilly Cup bludgeoning in Christchurch.
On this evidence, the Black Ferns will take some beating on home soil in October’s World Cup, dishing out Australia’s heaviest loss in five years.
New Zealand were too strong in the scrum and devastating with ball in hand, playing at a pace the Wallaroos couldn’t handle.
Veteran halfback Kendra Cocksedge was at her masterful best, orchestrating the win and claiming a try for herself as the Kiwis ran riot.
After nine phases, Cocksedge dummied to score a fine try on the half-hour mark, capping a frenetic run of four New Zealand tries in 17 minutes.
After shipping another four tries after the break, substitute Piper Duck scored Australia’s only points in the final minute.
Australia are used to losing to New Zealand – this defeat was the 21st in succession – but the scoreline will alarm coach Jay Tregonning weeks out from the World Cup.
“All credit to the Kiwis tonight. They put us to the sword,” Australia captain Shannon Parry said.
“They really made us pay. We really struggled to grind them down and build possession.”
The loss is Australia’s fifth in succession; the Wallaroos’ worst run in five years.
Ruahei Demant got New Zealand’s party started on 14 minutes, darting between Cecilia Smith and Georgina Friedrichs to score.
Quick thinking from the Kiwi forward pack allowed Joanah Ngan Woo to go over from a lineout shortly after.
Amy du Plessis defied a desperate diving tackle from Emily Chancellor to scored her first Black Ferns try before Cocksedge’s fine effort gave the Kiwis a 26-0 halftime advantage.
Ayesha Leti-I’iga scored a pair of tries after the break, the first a superb breakaway, and the second after a wide spread on the goal line.
Co-captain Demant also grabbed her second, and substitute Luka Connor rounded out New Zealand’s big night with five minutes left, cashing in on a rolling maul.
The win is Wayne Smith’s fourth straight since taking on the Black Ferns coaching role, bringing an expansive brand of rugby.
“In the first 20 minutes it was really tough. They really brought it to us,” Du Plessis said.
“Our execution and game plan that we’ve wanted to play, we came out on top.”
The O’Reilly Cup concludes with the return leg in Adelaide next Saturday.
The trans-Tasman rivals are also slated to meet on the opening night of the World Cup, at Auckland’s Eden Park on October 8.
Rugby – The Roar