20 May, 2024 04:00 AM3 mins to read

The Black Ferns’ inability to adjust to the way the game was being refereed ultimately aided their downfall against Canada in Sunday’s Pacific Four series clash in Christchurch.

Black Ferns - Figure 1
Photo New Zealand Herald

That was the summation from head coach Allan Bunting, who credited Canada’s approach to the game but said his side did not adjust to the whistle.

“Our ladies’ intent was good, but [we] probably didn’t adjust to the ref. She was calling us quite a bit and we didn’t adjust to that, so that’s on us,” Bunting said.

“I thought they were infringing a bit at the ruck too, but that’s the way it goes. We didn’t adjust on our side of the ball.”

It was the first time in 18 tests between the two sides that the Canadian got the better of their New Zealand counterparts, the result seeing them win the Pacific Four series title. They are expected to now leapfrog the Black Ferns up to second in the world rankings, behind England.

The Black Ferns’ troubles with the whistle started in the opening minutes when they were pulled up for infringing with an illegal cleanout at the breakdown, deep in Canadian territory.

As Bunting highlighted, the side never adjusted and penalties allowed the Canadians to get free metres out of their own territory.

The Black Ferns had the majority of possession in the game, but with Canada defending well and challenging their hosts physically, they weren’t able to capitalise. When the Canadians did get an opportunity, they had a better hit rate in converting that to points.

Black Ferns - Figure 2
Photo New Zealand Herald

“It was frustrating at times, and obviously we’re disappointed as a whole group. It’s on all of us,” Bunting said.

“Canada, they did bring it to us... They were physical and held on to the ball and they certainly played in the right areas of the field. Our discipline let them down there quite a bit, so we’ll take some lessons from that.”

With the side now looking ahead to their final match of the Pacific Four series against Australia in Auckland on Saturday afternoon – a dead-rubber match given the title has already been decided - co-captain Ruahei Demant said it was important the side approached it the right way.

“We can always improve. That’s where our focus was and that was the message at the end of the game,” Demant said.

“I think it’s exciting to know that whatever opposition you play, you can’t take lightly. The journey for us to the World Cup next year isn’t always going to be smooth, but I think this is where we get the most growth.

“We’re looking to expand and grow in many areas of our game and we know that isn’t always going to go perfectly, but that’s where we’re going to get the most growth.”

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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