Rugby World Cup: 'Mentally bruised' Black Ferns grateful for early scare against Australia at Eden Park

A "mentally bruised" Black Ferns outfit admit the occasion of their opening Rugby World Cup match at Eden Park may have got to them, but they are grateful for the experience.

In front of a sellout crowd, New Zealand and their supporters were left stunned, as Australia raced to a 17-0 lead in the first 30 minutes.

But just as it looked like the visitors were on their way to a stunning upset, the Black Ferns scored 41 unanswered points to clinch a dominant first-up win.

Assistant coach Wesley Clarke concedes his players struggled to cope with the enormity of fixture, but believes it will serve them well for the rest of the tournament.

"Physically, we've pulled up pretty well," he said. "Mentally, we're bruised from the first half, but really excited by the second half - we're going good.

"There's some technical things we didn't nail in there as well, so it's been a bit of a focus today.

"Our set-piece has to be tidied up a little, we didn't provide any line speed or any real aggression in our defence, so tidying those two areas up will give us a better start next time.

"Yeah, 100 percent I do, but like I said, it's also technical, little things that will help us get into that and make sure we all have clarity - part of mental is making sure we have clarity.

"On defence, it's hard to go up fast in the line, if you're not sure where everyone else is, so we just have to tidy up on a few things.

"It's the best thing for us I think. We got exposed in a couple of areas, so it's great that we see that now, but we still came away with 4-5 points - perfect start really."

The Black Ferns' next challenge will be overcoming a victorious Welsh side, who needed an 86th minute penalty to beat Scotland in their first match.

Loose forward Sarah Hirini is confident her team's early jitters are behind them and they are focused at the task of tackling a high-flying Wales outfit.

"We're now able to focus a little bit more," she said. "Last week was about the occasion and starting well, but this week is actually just about nailing our core roles.

"For them to have that experience at Eden Park is going to be the best thing for them moving forward. Obviously going to Waitakere, the best thing we can do is enjoy it, but then play to the best of our abilities and the fans will keep coming back."

Check out the Rugby World Cup live on Spark Sport or free-to-air on Three, or join us at 3:15pm Sunday for live updates of the Black Ferns v Wales pool encounter