Thursday 2 February 2023 Dublin: 10°C
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Wonderful Woodman scores four as Black Ferns march back into World Cup final
New Zealand scored seven tries on their way to the final, where they will face either England or France on Saturday.

New Zealand 45

USA 12

Sean Farrell reports from Kingspan Stadium

THEY WANT THEIR trophy back. And with Portia Woodman on board, New Zealand look like it is well within their grasp.

The four-time champions once again looked a mean outfit as they played their way around and through a wonderfully physical Eagles side to reach their fifth World Cup final – a stage on which they have never lost.

The USA, who produced a thrilling finish against reigning champions England to guarantee their place in the semi-finals, were worthy, muscular opposition for the women in black and they caused the Kiwi defence plenty of problems with fullback Cheta Emba running from deep with venom and chasing like a woman possesses.

After out-half Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali got the Black Ferns on the board and over the line as early as the third minute, Emba had a big hand in putting the Eagles ahead as she produced a terrific offload to supply Kris Thomas a 15th minute try which Alev Kelter nervelessly converted.

At any level though, you can take it as a compliment if New Zealand decide to kick penalties towards the post rather than run at you and that was exactly what captain Fiao’o Faamausili called for three minutes later, allowing Kendra Cocksedge nudge her side back in the lead.

And there they stayed. The tournament’s stand-out player Woodman once again broke the game apart with a barnstorming burst through the heart of the US defence and left three would-be tacklers in her wake as she scorched a trail under the posts for a 25th minute score to put daylight between the sides.

They would carry that 15 – 7 advantage through half-time with partial thanks to referee Alhambra Nievas who opted against punishing Charmaine Smith’s high tackle in front of the posts with more than a penalty. The Eagles then opted against taking the easy three points on offer and Faamausili came up with a turnover within a minute to ease the pressure.

Portia Woodman scores her third try Billy Stickland / INPHO Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

Just as they managed from the opening, the Ferns crossed the whitewash within three minutes of the restart. Woodman again provided the finish after the rapid Selica Winiata put herself on the end of Cocksedge’s excellent grubber and put the Sevens superstar away.

After Kelter raced away to grab a second try for the US, there was to be an even better assist for Woodman to mark her hat-trick. Cocksedge was again the secondary provider, this time a long pass left found Kelly Brazier who managed to spin and offload Woodman’s way in one fluid motion.

28 – 12 up, the Ferns could start thinking of the final, but perhaps replacement scrum-half Linda Itunu made her mark too forcefully as she flailed into a tackle on Hope Rogers that connected with the prop’s head and left Itunu fortunate to receive just a yellow card.

Before she could get back on the field, Woodman had claimed a fourth try, Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate scored her team’s sixth and Stacey Waaka botched a touchdown after a horrific mix-up from Emba and Thomas allowed her a clean run through.

It was a dis-jointed end before Brazier dived over for a seventh try, but these Black Ferns revel in such conditions, and no team at this tournament has been able to impose a structure on them yet.


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New Zealand

Tries: V Subritzky-Nafatali,  P Woodman (4), TK Ngata-Aerengamate, K Brazier

Conversions:  (2/7)

Penalties: K Cocksedge (2/2)


Tries: K Thomas, A Kelter

Conversions: A Kelter (1/2)

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