Portia Woodman becomes Rugby World Cup record try-scorer as Black Ferns book semi-final spot
New Zealand set up a Rugby World Cup 2021 semi-final against France with a commanding 55-3 victory against Wales in Whangārei.
Portia Woodman – who became the tournament’s record try-scorer – and Luka Connor scored two tries apiece as the Black Ferns crossed the whitewash nine times at the Northland Events Centre.
Elinor Snowsill missed an early penalty for Wales, whose only points came from the boot of scrum-half Keira Bevan.
"To come out here and see our supporters and families in the crowd, that’s what it is all about," returning New Zealand co-captain Kennedy Simon said.
"We are just trying to draw a line in the sand and keep getting better and better each week.”
Wales knew they would have to take their chances if they were to record an unlikely victory and reach the RWC 2021 semi-finals, but Snowsill watched her fifth-minute penalty slide wide of the posts.
Less than eight minutes later, the Black Ferns opened the scoring as Theresa Fitzpatrick found Ruby Tui with a fine pass and the full-back popped the ball onto Woodman to score.
In scoring, Woodman equalled the Rugby World Cup try-scoring record, drawing level with former England star Sue Day on 19.
Bevan did get Wales on the scoreboard with a 16th-minute penalty, but New Zealand’s backline were beginning to find their rhythm.
Around four minutes later, co-captain Ruahei Demant found Woodman with a cross-field kick and the winger sucked in the defence before offloading to Tui to score.
Wales were having to work increasingly hard in defence and the Black Ferns exploited the gaps that were starting to open up to score two more tries before half-time.
In the 27th minute, Fitzpatrick added impetus to a Black Ferns attack with a stunning break that took play deep into the Wales 22. When the ball was recycled, Sarah Hirini was on hand to stretch over and score.
With less than three minutes of the half remaining, Demant put Woodman through a hole in the Wales defence to spark the move that ended with Amy Rule scoring.
The Black Ferns continued to dominate in the second half and increased their lead further in the 43rd minute as Woodman finished off a flowing team move to notch a record 20th Rugby World Cup try.
Wales had made 107 tackles in the first half alone and those exertions took their toll in the second. The hosts won a scrum penalty against the head with a huge shove in the 48th minute, and from the resulting penalty Connor was driven over the line.
Around seven minutes later a Fitzpatrick turnover and Stacey Fluhler break ended with Alana Bremner crossing the whitewash from close range to put the Black Ferns 45-3 in front.
Wales then lost Carys Williams-Morris to the sin-bin and their task was made even more daunting when an injury to replacement back Megan Webb reduced them to 13 players momentarily.
New Zealand took full advantage, as Connor grabbed a second try and then, when Lleucu George had been shown a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on, Demant capped a fine individual performance by crossing the whitewash herself.