New Zealand thrash Wallaroos in Pacific Four mismatch

Darren Walton |

Winger Mererangi Paul bagged a hat-trick as New Zealand crushed Australia in Auckland.
Winger Mererangi Paul bagged a hat-trick as New Zealand crushed Australia in Auckland.

New Zealand have heaped yet more misery on the Wallaroos and consigned Australia to a winless Pacific Four campaign with a 67-19 rout in   Auckland.

The Black Ferns piled on 11 tries to three and had the match won well before halftime, taking a 41-7 lead to the break at North Harbour Stadium on Saturday.

Winger Mererangi Paul bagged a hat-trick and flanker Kennedy Simon jagged a second-half double as New Zealand stretched their utter domination over Australia’s women’s rugby team to 26 wins from 26 encounters. 

Hooker Georgia Ponsonby, prop Chryss Viliko, No.8 Kaipo Olsen-Baker, centre Sylvia Brunt, winger Katelyn Vaha’akolo and flanker Liana Mikaele-Tu’u also crossed as the Black Ferns brutally exposed the gulf in class between the trans-Tasman rivals.

Kennedy Simon scores a try for New Zealand against Australia.
Kennedy Simon scored a double for New Zealand in the Pacific Four match against the Wallaroos. (David Rowland/AAP PHOTOS)

The defeat also denied the Wallaroos the chance to secure their place at next year’s Rugby World Cup in England.

They can still qualify but first must pick up the pieces from this crushing loss, as well as previous defeats to Canada and the USA in the four-team series.

“It was frustrating,” said Wallaroos coach Jo Yapp.

“The area that really let us down today was the breakdown – the attack breakdown.

“When we managed to keep hold of the ball and we recycled it, we got in behind them.

“But at one point we were just turning over the ball way too easily.”

Yapp was pleased with the second-half showing when the Wallaroos were able to restrict the Black Ferns to only three tries.

“The second half we got hold of the ball and were able to keep the ball for longer periods, which allowed us to get some points on the board,” she said.

“We held our own in the set piece and the girls got back into it as the game wore on.

“But a big focus for us is the breakdown and that ability to exit. We just couldn’t exit on our terms and put pressure on ourselves.”

There was no sign of such a shellacking on Saturday when Wallaroos flyhalf Arabella McKenzie strolled over in the seventh minute, then converted her own try to level the match at 7-all.

Arabella McKenzie scores a trie for Australia.
Arabella McKenzie scored two tries for Australia against New Zealand. (David Rowland/AAP PHOTOS)

But McKenzie kicking out on the full turned the tide as the Black Ferns grabbed their second try through Brunt in the 13th minute.

The floodgates opened and New Zealand produced a 55-point scoring blitz in 42 minutes to fire a brutal reality check the Wallaroos’ way.

A second try to McKenzie, plus one for prolific winger Maya Stewart, served as little more than consolation efforts for the Wallaroos, who must go back to the drawing board before hosting Fiji in Sydney on July 7.

They then play the Black Ferns again the following weekend, chasing redemption in Brisbane.