Women's Rugby World Cup: New Zealand dominate Wales in 56-12 victory to secure quarter-final spot
Wales will now have to beat Australia in their final match of Pool A if they want to reach the knockout stages of the tournament; The bonus-point victory for the Black Ferns puts them through to the quarter-finals along with England and Canada
Last Updated: 16/10/22 11:22am
Reigning champions and tournament hosts New Zealand overwhelmed Wales 56-12 at the Women's Rugby World Cup on Sunday to secure top spot in Pool A and a place in the quarter-finals along with England and Canada.
Prolific winger Portia Woodman and 18-year-old centre Sylvia Brunt both crossed twice as the five-time world champions ran in 10 tries in a bonus-point win to delight the crowd at the Waitakere Stadium in the suburbs of Auckland.
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Woodman's combination of power and pace was all but irresistible at times as she improved her tally to 18 tries in seven career World Cup matches and her overall mark to 36 in 22 tests.
Brunt scored the pick of the tries with her second effort, however, crossing in the 49th minute at the end of a sweeping 80-metre attack in which the ball passed through a series of New Zealand hands.
"I'm really proud of our mental strength," said New Zealand captain Ruahei Demant.
"I'm happy that we had the courage to play into space regardless of where we were on the field and didn't take the easy road by taking contact all the time."
Story of the match
With some dominant scrums and powerful rolling mauls, Wales gave New Zealand a reminder of potential challenges ahead if, as looks likely, they meet European powers England and France later in the tournament.
It was from the lineout drive, a major weapon for tournament favourites England, that the Welsh scored both of their tries through scrumhalf Ffion Lewis and No 8 Sioned Harries.
Any hopes of a comeback after Lewis's try just before half-time were quickly extinguished, though, when Black Ferns lock Maiakawanakaulani Roos and centre Theresa Fitzpatrick crossed for tries in the four minutes after the restart.
New Zealand No 8 Charmaine McMenamin was in the sin bin for the last 10 minutes but the New Zealanders still added further tries from fly-half Demant and full-back Ruby Tui, the latter set up almost inevitably by another Woodman break.
"It was a brutal 80 minutes," said Wales skipper Siwan Lillicrap.
"I've got to credit the Black Ferns. When they throw the ball around, their pick-and goes, their offloads, their strength, they are brutal."
While New Zealand can afford to rest some of their players for their final pool match against winless Scotland, Wales now almost certainly need to beat Australia next week to reach the knockout rounds.
Lillicrap: Don't write us off just yet
Lillicrap warned against dismissing Wales' World Cup chances despite the heavy loss.
"Don't write us off, we are fighting for those quarter-final spaces it's a huge game next week (against Australia) and we will recover quickly and we will move forward to that game quickly," said Lillicrap.
"We are seeing glimpses of what this side is capable of, we haven't seen a rounded performance yet. We are new in the journey, we are new to professional rugby, we have been working hard and I think you can see that."
Lillicrap insisted Wales put in a performance boasting strength upfront, but lacking in killer instinct.
"Our set-piece was really dominant today. Our pack did exceptionally well in that area," she added.
"Lineouts, driving mauls, scrums there were a lot of penalties there. We didn't capitalise on the opportunities in that area and didn't front up physically enough in that area. Credit to the Black Ferns they put everything at us.
"They scored a couple of quick tries again in that first half, and in the same second half we let them score two tries which isn't the way we wanted to start.
"They pounced on our mistakes, they have deadly wingers that can create stuff from nothing. They have deadly players all around the park, with great attacking ability."