19 May, 2024 06:57 AM4 mins to read

Black Ferns 19

Canada 22

Black Ferns - Figure 1
Photo New Zealand Herald

After the highs of their 57-5 win over USA last weekend, the Black Ferns have been brought crashing back to Earth.

In the second match of their Pacific Four series campaign in Christchurch on Sunday, the Black Ferns were beaten by Canada 22-19.

It was the first time in 18 tests between the two that Canada got the better of their New Zealand counterparts, and it was a win the Northerners thoroughly deserved.

The result also saw Canada claim the Pacific Four series title, already having beaten USA and Australia.

The Black Ferns struggled throughout the fixture with their discipline, and with the Canadians defending well, the hosts’ attack at times looked panicked and out of sync as they struggled to create gaps in the Canadian line.

The breakdown was a key area for the visitors, who brought a physical challenge to their hosts and won the ball through their counter-ruck a few times; often simply being quicker to get numbers there.

It was a similar performance to the second half of the Black Ferns’ win over the United States, where discipline and errors did the Black Ferns no favours and they found themselves under pressure for large parts.

The tone was set in the opening exchanges when Canada knocked on immediately from the kick-off, but defended well and the Black Ferns ultimately turned the ball over through an illegal clean-out. The Black Ferns had chances but didn’t capitalise; Canada never lost their composure on defence when the Black Ferns did go on the attack.

Black Ferns - Figure 2
Photo New Zealand Herald

“We let them get on top of us,” Black Ferns co-captain Kennedy Simon told Sky Sport.

“Just little things that we could have fixed. Congratulations to them, we just have to go away, reflect on ourselves and make sure we show up. It’s not over yet.”

Canada opened the scoring through a Sophie de Goede penalty seven minutes in, but the Black Ferns pressed forward and scored through Katelyn Vahaakolo out wide three minutes later.

A beautiful no-look inside ball from Maia Joseph put Vahaakolo over for her second in the 23rd minute, with Ruahei Demant’s conversion making it 14-3.

While the Black Ferns had the bulk of possession, Canada were making what ball they could get their hands on count and ultimately that pressure led to a try through right wing Fancy Bermudez.

The Black Ferns held a slim lead at halftime, though they might have felt they could have been ahead by more as Georgia Ponsonby looked to have scored late in the half. However, the referee had blown the whistle and ruled the Black Ferns hooker had been held up before she eventually put the ball down.

The 20 minutes following the break saw Canada take the upper hand. The Canadians kept things rather simple on attack, keeping ball in hand, getting numbers to the breakdown and pressing forward.

They eventually took the lead through a try to loosehead prop McKinley Hunt from a lineout drive. That was then extended on the 60-minute mark with a second to Bermudez, who scored soon after Sylvia Brunt had been sin-binned for the Black Ferns after committing too many penalties.

Canada lost halfback Olivia Apps to yellow card for the last 10 minutes of the game, and the Black Ferns struck out wide through Patricia Maliepo.

However, they weren’t able to get back into Canadian territory after that; Aldora Itunu getting a late yellow card for a breakdown infringement as Canada closed out an historic win.

Black Ferns 19 (Katelyn Vahaakolo 2, Patricia Maliepo tries; Ruahei Demant 2 cons)

Canada 22 (Fancy Bermudez 2, McKinley Hunt tries; Sophie de Goede 2 cons, pen)

HT: 14-10

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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