Rugby World Cup: Black Ferns overrun Wales to clinch tournament quarter-finals spot

Veteran Portia Woodman and teen Sylvia Brunt have scored try doubles, as the Black Ferns dispatched Wales 56-12 in their Rugby World Cup pool clash at Auckland's Waitakere Stadium.

The result has helped defending champions New Zealand clinch top spot in their pool and a place in the quarter-finals, with another game still to come in the preliminary stage, but the host nation certainly didn't have their own way in this contest, despite the scoreline.

The Welsh forward gave their rivals a torrid examination at set-piece, forcing the NZ women to repeatedly infringe in an effort to stem the tide. Over the dying moments, the Ferns were reduced to 13 players, after repeated warnings resulted in two yellow cards.

Ruahei Demant scores for the Black Ferns
Ruahei Demant scores for the Black Ferns. Photo credit: Photosport

New Zealand did well to keep the game scoreless over the opening quarter hour, with Wales starting strongly, but just unable to capitalise on their initial momentum. Ferns flanker Alana Bremner finally broke the deadlock, before Woodman grabbed her first try from the restart.

Brunt took a final pass from Bremner to score her first, then Woodman had her second before halftime, as the Black Ferns run up a 22-0 lead.

On the stroke of halftime, the Welsh secured their first points, winning back-to-back lineouts, before halfback Ffion Lewis sniped over from a close-range ruck. The Kiwis were probably fortunate not to lose a player, as Wales were playing under penalty advantage, after referee Hollie Davidson had already issued a final warning to NZ captain Ruahei Demant. 

Any thoughts of a Wales comeback were quickly snuffed out after the break, when lock Maia Roos, centre Theresa Fitzpatrick and Brunt stuck in quick succession, piling on 17 points in eight minutes to draw clear again.

Wales had overpowered the Ferns at scrumtime during the first half, but front-row replacements seemed to shore up the NZ pack after the break, with prop Krystal Murray making an immediate impact and scoring the next try.

Demant had a hand in everything, repeatedly the catalyst of her team's attack, and was finally rewarded with a try of her own, but with loose forwards Sarah Hirini and Charmaine McMenamin consigned to the sin bin, the Wales pack rumbled to another try to No.8 Sioned Harries.

In her first outing at fullback, Ruby Tui put the finishing flourish on the performance with a try in the final minute.

While the NZ win looked comfortable enough on the scoreboard, there were warning signs for tougher games to come, bearing in mind England put 70 points on Wales in their final World Cup hitout last month.

The Welsh forwards embarrassed their counterparts at times, showing the Kiwi brains trust will have work to do in that area, but the bonus-point victory puts the titleholders well clear of nearest rivals Wales and Australia, with winless Scotland looming next week.

NZ 56 (Woodman 2, Brunt 2, C Bremner, Roos, Fitzpatrick, Murray, Demant & Tui tries; Demant 3 conversions) Wales 12 (F Lewis & Harries tries; Snowsill conversion)

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