Woodman inspires epic comeback in World Cup opener

Woodman inspires epic comeback in World Cup opener

Hosts New Zealand recovered from conceding three first-half tries to beat Australia 41-17 in their opening Rugby World Cup 2021 match at Eden Park on Saturday.

A record crowd in Auckland were stunned into silence as Bienne Terita (two) and Ivania Wong touched down to give the Wallaroos a 17-0 lead inside half an hour.

The Black Ferns hit back before half-time through Joanah Ngan-Woo and Portia Woodman, and the latter would go on to complete her hat-trick in the second half.

Awhina Tangen-Wainohu and Ruby Tui (twice) also crossed the whitewash after the break as the Black Ferns confirmed a bonus-point victory at Eden Park.

The Wallaroos had never beaten the Black Ferns in 22 previous tests but started the match in determined mood as they attempted to spoil the party at Eden Park.

Australia kept their opponents pinned inside their own half in the early exchanges and were only denied a try by some brilliant defence from New Zealand winger Tui.

The Black Ferns’ resolve broke in the 14th minute, when Terita stretched over in the right corner for her first try of RWC 2021.

Within 120 seconds, the Wallaroos’ lead was 12-0 as Wong scored a breakaway try. Terita then grabbed her second of the match to give her side a three-score lead with less than 28 minutes on the clock.

New Zealand had failed to land a punch up until that point but in the closing 10 minutes of the first half, Wayne Smith’s side found some form.

First, Ngan-Woo stretched out from close range to get them on the board, following great work from Pip Love and Stacey Fluhler. Then, Portia Woodman displayed her power and pace to dot down in the left corner.

The Black Ferns were still five points adrift at the break, but that deficit was erased within two minutes of the restart as Woodman crossed for a second time.

Arabella McKenzie had an opportunity to edge the Wallaroos back in front but struck the right post with her penalty and the match then swung firmly in the Black Ferns’ favour.

In the passage of play that followed the missed kick, the Wallaroos lost both Ivania Wong and captain Shannon Parry to the sin bin.

During the 10 minutes the Australian pair were off the field, the hosts scored twice as replacement prop Tangen-Wainohu powered over from close range and Woodman then crossed for a third time, following a slick offload from Fluhler.

Australia were soon back up to 15 players but they were unable to prevent their opponents adding another two tries, both scored by Tui, the second of which was a sublime solo effort.

Latest News