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Black Ferns score 57 in first test of 2024

Author
Christopher Reive,
Publish Date
Sat, 11 May 2024, 5:00pm
Amy du Plessis scored the opening try of the Black Ferns' win over USA. Photo / Photosport
Amy du Plessis scored the opening try of the Black Ferns' win over USA. Photo / Photosport

Black Ferns score 57 in first test of 2024

Author
Christopher Reive,
Publish Date
Sat, 11 May 2024, 5:00pm

The Black Ferns have flown out of the gates into their 2024 campaign. 

In their first test of the year against the United States in Hamilton, the Black Ferns scored 36 points in 27 minutes to set up a 57-5 win, with fullback Mererangi Paul scoring a hat-trick inside the opening 20 minutes. 

It was a performance that Allan Bunting’s team can build upon, with plenty to like but some issues to address. 

The Black Ferns were dominant through the middle with the forwards taking plenty of strong carries, which opened up space for the backs to get to work. For most of the first half, the hosts were ahead of the clock with their scoring, as the Americans struggled to contain them – particularly out wide with outside backs Katelyn Vahaakolo, Ruby Tui and Paul in the thick of things in the opening 40 minutes. 

It was a different story in the second half, however, with the visitors largely dictating the play and showing a lot more fight defensively. The Black Ferns also had a couple of issues at the scrum and lineout, while they also conceded a few penalties that helped to relieve any pressure on the Americans as they tried to work out of their own territory. 

The Black Ferns outscored the United States 21-5 in the second half, but that flattered the hosts as they scored two tries in the final eight minutes of the game to push the scoreline out. 

The match saw three new Black Ferns ascend to the international stage, with lock Maama Mo’onia Vaipulu, halfback Maia Joseph and back-up first five-eighths Hannah King all looking settled in their first test minutes as the side look to build their depth. 

Things got off to a perfect start for the Black Ferns, with Amy du Plessis scoring after two minutes following a break down the left wing by Vahaakolo. A smart offload from right wing Tui put fullback Paul across a couple of minutes later, before Vahaakolo scored with alarming ease as she cruised around the USA defenders from about halfway with little resistance. 

Paul scored their next try, with a little flair as she completely ignored Tui – who was unmarked beside her – about 22m out from the try line to instead try a chip and chase over the USA fullback. Luckily the bounce was in her favour and she scored a memorable try. 

The fullback had a hat-trick inside 20 minutes, scoring her third off a lovely little cross-field kick after the USA defence jammed in. 

When Vaipulu pushed over for her first career test try to make the score 36-0 after 27 minutes, it seemed the Black Ferns were on pace to put a record score up. 

But that was where the USA fight back began. 

After the break, the visitors got into their work and tested the Black Ferns’ defence, before Tui extended the lead – this time Paul giving up a try to instead assist Tui in scoring. 

The States eventually were rewarded for a strong half through loose forward Freda Tafuna, but two late Black Ferns tries through Layla Sae and Patricia Maliepo saw the Black Ferns claim a 52-point win. 

Black Ferns 57 (Mererangi Paul 3, Amy du Plessis, Katelyn Vahaakolo, Maama Mo’onia Vaipulu, Ruby Tui, Layla Sae, Patricia Maliepo tries; Ruahei Demant 3 cons, Hannah King 3 cons) 

USA 5 (Freda Tafuna try) 

HT: 36-0 

Christopher Reive joined the Herald sports team in 2017, bringing the same versatility to his coverage as he does to his sports viewing habits. 

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