Black Ferns, France set up high-powered World Cup semifinal
QUARTERFINAL SATURDAY WRAP: Wing Portia Woodman became the most prolific try-scorer in women’s Rugby World Cup history as New Zealand crushed Wales 55-3 in their quarterfinal on Saturday.
The tournament hosts will play France in a high-powered semifinal next week after the French outclassed Italy 39-3 in the day’s earlier match in Whangarei.
France’s five-try performance was also led by their right wing, with Joanna Grisez snaring a hat-trick.
Woodman’s double for the Black Ferns took her to 20 World Cup tries, the most by any player and achieved in just eight games.
It surpasses the 19 tries scored by England outside back Sue Day, who achieved her tally in 13 matches, from 1998 to 2006.
Woodman played down her milestone, pushing praise onto teammates and New Zealand’s attack-first style, which carried them to three big wins in group play, including a 56-12 dismantling of Wales.
“If they didn’t do the work they did, I wouldn’t be able to get those tries but [the record] is pretty cool, I guess,” Woodman said.
“At the start of the game, we wanted our forward to ‘mongrel up’ and bring that physicality from the get-go.
“And, in the backs, we just let the ball fly. It was really awesome.”
The five-time champions took command from the outset, using their high-speed, expansive style to create nine tries, including a brace to hooker Luka Connor.
Flyhalf Ruahei Demant scored the final try in a 15-point haul which included five conversions.
Wales missed 50 tackles and their defence was further stretched when Carys Williams-Morris and Lleucu George were both shown second-half yellow cards.
‘Dream come true’
New Zealand will face their first stiff test of the tournament against France, who beat them heavily twice during a tour of Europe last November.
The French dominated most of their quarterfinal but it took until the final quarter to cut loose against Italy, scoring four of their five tries after leading 10-3 at half-time.
Grisez scored the only try of the first half but grabbed two more during the late rush, while replacement hooker Laure Touye also crossed.
Inside centre Gabrielle Vernier said it was France’s best performance at the tournament, eclipsing their tight 7-13 pool loss to tournament favourites England.
“It’s been a tough few weeks and today we proved that we are one of the best teams here,” Vernier said.
“A lot of us haven’t played at a World Cup so it’s new for us. It’s a dream come true.”
It is the eighth time France have reached the semifinals in nine editions of the tournament, but they have never qualified for the final.
Italy, making their maiden appearance in the knockout phase, barely got into France’s half after the interval, not helped by yellow cards shown to Maria Magatti and Silvia Turani.
It capped a forgettable week for the Italians, whose lock Sara Tounesi was suspended for 12 weeks after the tournament judiciary found her guilty of biting a Japanese opponent during last week’s final group match.
They struggled to dent a French defensive line which conceded the least points of any team in the group phase, leaking just two tries.
Sunday’s quarterfinals pit England against Australia and Canada against the United States.
The scores and scorers:
France 39-3 Italy
Tries: Grisez 3, Penalty Try, Touye
Cons: Drouin 2, Queyroi
Pens: Drouin 2
France: 15 Emilie Boulard, 14 Joanna Grisez, 13 Maëlan Filopon, 12 Gabrielle Vernier, 11 Marine Menager, 10 Caroline Drouin, 9 Pauline Bourdon, 8 Charlotte Escudero, 7 Marjorie Mayans, 6 Gaelle Hermet, 5 Madoussou Fall, 4 Celine Ferer, 3 Clara Joyeux, 2 Agathe Sochat, 1 Annaelle Deshaye.
Replacements: 16 Laure Touye, 17 Coco Lindelauf, 18 Assia Khalfaoui, 19 Safi N’Diaye, 20 Emeline Gros, 21 Alexandra Chambon, 22 Lina Queyroi, 23 Chloe Jacquet.
Italy: 15 Vittoria Ostuni Minuzzi, 14 Aura Muzzo, 13 Michela Sillari, 12 Beatrice Rigoni, 11 Maria Magatti, 10 Veronica Madia, 9 Sofia Stefan, 8 Elisa Giordano, 7 Isabella Locatelli, 6 Francesca Sgorbini, 5 Giordana Duca, 4 Valeria Fedrighi, 3 Lucia Gai, 2 Melissa Bettoni, 1 Silvia Turani.
Replacements: 16 Vittoria Vecchini, 17 Gaia Maris, 18 Sara Seye, 19 Michela Merlo, 20 Beatrice Veronese, 21 Sara Barattin, 22 Alyssa D’Inca, 23 Manuela Furlan.
Referee: Hollie Davidson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Amber McLachlan (Australia), Tyler Miller (Australia)
TMO: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
New Zealand 55-3 Wales
For New Zealand:
Tries: Woodman 2, Tui, Hirini, Rule, Connor 2, Bremner, Demant
Cons: Demant 5
New Zealand: 15 Ruby Tui, 14 Portia Woodman, 13 Stacey Fluhler, 12 Theresa Fitzpatrick, 11 Ayesha Leti-l’iga, 10 Ruahei Demant (captain), 9 Kendra Cocksedge, 8 Liana Mikaele-Tu’u, 7 Sarah Hirini, 6 Alana Bremner, 5 Chelsea Bremner, 4 Maiakawanakaulani Roos, 3 Amy Rule, 2 Georgia Ponsonby, 1 Phillipa Love.
Replacements: 16 Luka Connor, 17 Krystal Murray, 18 Santo Taumata, 19 Joanah Ngan-Woo, 20 Kennedy Simon, 21 Ariana Bayler, 22 Hazel Tubic, 23 Renee Holmes.
Wales: 15 Jasmine Joyce, 14 Lowri Norkett, 13 Carys Williams, 12 Hannah Jones (captain), 11 Lisa Neumann, 10 Elinor Snowsill, 9 Keira Bevan, 8 Sioned Harries, 7 Alex Callender, 6 Beth Lewis, 5 Gwen Crabb, 4 Natalia John, 3 Donna Rose, 2 Carys Phillips, 1 Cara Hope.
Replacements: 16 Kelsey Jones, 17 Gwenllian Pyrs, 18 Sisilia Tuipulotu, 19 Georgia Evans, 20 Siwan Lillicrap, 21 Ffion Lewis, 22 Lleucu George, 23 Megan Webb.
Referee: Aimee Barrett-Theron (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Aurélie Groizeleau (France), Julianne Zussman (Romania)
TMO: Chris Assmus (Romania)