8 Oct 2022

Rugby World Cup: Black Ferns overcome horror start to beat Australia 41-17

9:37 pm on 8 October 2022

After giving away a 17-point lead early in the first half of their opening Rugby World Cup match against Australia, the Black Ferns have hit back to win 41-17 at Eden Park tonight.

Ruby Tui in action for New Zealand against Australia at the Rugby World Cup.

Ruby Tui in action for New Zealand against Australia at the Rugby World Cup. Photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz

Australia scored the first three tries in the game as the hosts stumbled in the opening quarter, but it was one-way traffic for the rest of the match.

Portia Woodman scored three tries for the Black Ferns, with Ruby Tui picking up two.

A rousing Black Ferns haka got the capacity crowd going but it was the Wallaroos - who had never beaten the Black Ferns in 22 previous attempts - who were quickly on the front foot once the match got underway.

It was all Australia in the early going and, despite some resolute New Zealand defence, right wing Bienne Terita eventually went over for the opening try in the 13th minute.

Just three minutes later it was left wing Ivania Wong's turn, scooping up a loose Black Ferns pass and running 60 metres to dot down.

If the home fans were quitened at that point, they were left stunned when Terita bagged her second try to give the Wallaroos a 17-0 lead with less than half-an-hour on the the clock.

New Zealand desperately needed to get their hands on the ball and respond before halftime and they did, twice.

Lock Joanah Ngan-Woo got the fans back on their feet when she barged over from close range.

And when star left wing Portia Woodman expertly finished a sweeping move just a few minutes before the break, the Black Ferns had cut the gap to just five at the break.

The Black Ferns benefited from a two-player advantage during the second half when two Wallaroos went to the bin.

Woodman scored twice more with Ruby Tui also notching up two tries in the second half, as the hosts kept the Wallaroos scoreless.

The match turned decisively in the 53rd minute, when Wong and Australia captain Shannon Parry were shown yellow cards within a few seconds of each other. Before the two Australians returned, replacement prop Awhina Tangen-Wainohu had forced her way over the line to secure New Zealand a bonus point and Woodman bagged her third try.

"It was definitely a game of two halves," said New Zealand captain Ruahei Demant.

"Australia really put us under the pump there right from the start. I'm proud of how we closed off that first half and the way that we finished that game."

Earlier today, favourites England opened their women's Rugby World Cup campaign with a 84-19 rout of Fiji at Eden Park.

France also beat South Africa 40-5.

Today's crowd for the triple-header was a record for a women's World Cup match and for a standalone women's sporting fixture in New Zealand.

- RNZ / Reuters