New Zealand scorch past Wales to send out early warning

Black Ferns’ back-three of Woodman, Winiata and Wickliffe a sight to behold at UCD

Selica Winiata scored a hat-trick as New Zealand romped past Wales in their World Cup opener. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty

Selica Winiata scored a hat-trick as New Zealand romped past Wales in their World Cup opener. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty

 

New Zealand 44 Wales 12

An old school contest in this bright new era for women’s rugby, with plenty of heavy hitting males among the crowd.

Wales refused to be cowed by the Black Ferns wondrous ability to scorch the earth once prowled from morning to night by the late, great Dave Billings.

Wales travelled down a path similar to so many northern hemisphere nations before them, coming unstuck against smooth Kiwi skill and pace.

Despite clear improvement since Ireland beat them in Cardiff last March, Wales trailed 20-0 at half-time due to sloppy turnovers.

New Zealand’s fleet-footed back three of Portia Woodman, Selica Winiata and Renee Wickliffe ruthlessly punished each and every handling error or wayward clearance, combining for six of their eight tries.

New Zealand celebrate their opening World Cup win over Wales. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty
New Zealand celebrate their opening World Cup win over Wales. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty

Did we just see the world champions or were they destroying Spain in the Belfield Bowl? “Obviously we’ll have to beat Canada next and then Hong Kong but yeah hopefully we can get better and win the World Cup,”replied Welsh coach Rowland Phillips before adding: “You get me now do you?”

Wales feel they have earned the right not to be talking about the eventual champions but Phillips eventually obliged: “England are probably more the finished article but you know New Zealand they will come back stronger than this. But I’m not really interested in that, I’m just interested in the fact our girls fronted up today and while we got the result, we didn’t get the final score we deserved.”

Winiata and Woodman

New Zealand have a malfunctioning lineout and, like most teams, lack a world class place-kicker but it’s worth a wander down to UCD just to see Winiata and Woodman in full flow.

Unfortunately you’ve already missed dignitary day at the World Cup. A half hour into this contest the temporarily constructed main stand was blessed by the presence of World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont and CEO Brett Gosper (much earlier, IRFU chief Philip Browne was seen availing of the few free parking spaces on campus).

Post-match Beaumont and Bernard Laporte met at the tunnel with a handshake while Gosper delivered the warmer double kiss for the head of the French 2023 bid.

There’s a tournament in full swing but plenty more besides as the politics of sports heats up in the VIP tent.

Alas, no South African delegation; the third nation competing for votes to host the men’s tournament failed to qualify.

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