Rugby: Black Ferns stay stout in big wet

By Ben Guild

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Black Ferns lock Eloise Blackwell  powers through Canada's defence at Tauranga Domain yesterday. Photo/John Borren
Black Ferns lock Eloise Blackwell powers through Canada's defence at Tauranga Domain yesterday. Photo/John Borren

The Black Ferns overcome staunch resistance and atrocious conditions to win the first test match against Canada at Tauranga Domain.

Both sides had shown the ability to run the ball in recent weeks but largely came unstuck trying to do so in the wet as the Black Ferns struggled to a 16-8 win in front of a small but committed crowd yesterday.

The home side scored quality backline tries through vice-captain Amiria Rule and fullback Selicia Winiata, but made tough work of the win by not following the plan of coach Brian Evans.

"It was far too wet and windy, and I think we played far too much running rugby and made things hard for ourselves," Evans said.

"I think we were poor in our decision-making - just tried to do things that were never going to work and turned it into a bit of a free-for- all.

"We talked at halftime about shortening it up and we scored a really nice try with close passing, but then we decided to take the elements on.

We wanted to do a lot more kicking and chasing but for whatever reason we didn't do it."

In a match in which Canada showed dominance in the scrum and a zest for work around the ruck, it was Rule that proved the difference.

Many times she bought her side time by being strong in the tackle or taking the ball back into traffic instead of shovelling it wide, with Canada clearly lacking the same punch in the midfield to go with the rapid back three of Jessica Dovanne, Magali Harvey and Elissa Alari.

Rule's first half effort, coming on the back of a number of phases, showcased her power on the outside, while Winiata's well-timed run to the corner came off her right shoulder after a break with three minutes to go.

Canada thoroughly deserved their try through centre Mandy Marchak and will take plenty from the match ahead of Saturday's second test in Whakatane.

Black Ferns 16 (Selica Winiata, Amiria Rule tries; Kendra Cocksedge 2 pens) Canada 8 (Mandy Marchak try, Magali Harvey pen)

- Bay of Plenty Times

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