The Black Ferns have overcome an early sucker punch to win their second pool game over Great Britain 26-21 and breathe a sigh of relief.
An early mistake where Ruby Tui spilt a simple pass allowed Great Britain to go on the front foot immediately. The resulting play off the scrum saw Helena Rowland sweep through the defence and touch down inside the opening 90 seconds.
Things went from bad to worse as Portia Woodman emulated Tui’s knock on off the kick off and Megan Jones easily broke through the line off the scrum, touching down for the second try in just three minutes.
Great Britain won the ball off the resulting kick off and Jasmine Joyce beat three defenders to score a remarkable third try in the first half. The Ferns were shell-shocked, down 21-0 with 90 seconds still to play in the first half.
But they kept their composure and finally managed to string together enough passes to free Michaela Blyde on the left wing, who was far too quick for the defence, beating her defender on the outside and scoring New Zealand’s first try.
Moments later Blyde was in again, New Zealand turning the ball over deep in Great Britain’s territory and firing the ball wide to the rapid winger, who was able to waltz over and touch down.
The conversion was missed but the Black Ferns went into the break breathing a sigh of relief having halved the deficit and found their mojo after a shocking first five minutes.
The second half was much less chaotic, with both teams trying to avoid mistakes and execute their plays.
A bit of brilliance with ball in hand by Tyla Nathan-Wong saw the Black Ferns cut the gap to two. Nathan-Wong received the ball in the middle of the park and sold a dummy, cutting through the defence and putting the foot down, leaving the British in her wake.
The Brits received a yellow card for a high tackle with a minute to go, opening up an opportunity for the Black Ferns to steal it late. The ball found who else but Blyde, receiving a long pass from Hirini, stepping inside her defender and outpacing the rest of the defenders to score a stunning hat-trick.
That was enough for the Black Ferns to secure victory, but not before their hearts skipped a beat.
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