CONTRASTING PERFORMANCES FROM BLACK FERNS AND ALL BLACKS

While the Black Ferns turned on a polished and typically entertaining performance to beat Wales 55-3 in their women’s World Cup rugby championship quarterfinal at Whangarei on Saturday, the All Blacks were anything but impressive in edging out a very good Japan side in Tokyo 38-31.

Impressive performance from Theresa Fitzpatrick

The Black Ferns performance was arguably their best of the tournament so far as they head into this Saturday’s semifinal against France at Eden Park in Auckland.

Coach Wayne Smith fielded arguably his strongest side although he has one major headache deciding who to pick to start at seven between the outstanding Sarah Hirini and co-captain Kennedy Simon who made an impressive comeback from injury off the bench against Wales.

Sarah Hirini scores.

The Black Ferns performance was arguably their best of the tournament so far as they head into this Saturday’s semifinal against France at Eden Park in Auckland.

Coach Wayne Smith fielded arguably his strongest side although he has one major headache deciding who to pick to start at seven between the outstanding Sarah Hirini and co-captain Kennedy Simon who made an impressive comeback from injury off the bench against Wales.

In the other semifinal on Saturday also at Eden Park, championship number one ranked England take on Canada.

Looks like Brodie Rettalick's tour is over...

Meanwhile in Tokyo last Saturday in front of a packed crowd of 65,000 the All Blacks struggled to overcome a very good Japan side who if they hadn’t made so many errors could easily have won the test.

The All Blacks produced patches of brilliance and showed glimpses of how good they can be but in general this was a poor performance. It was muddled, several fringe players failed to make their mark and the aimless kicking returned. 

Also can someone tell me why our halfbacks don’t run from the base of the rucks or scrums anymore. It’s a weakness in our game and something the big guns like Ireland, France and South Africa use as a striking point for attacks.

Aaron Smith - great pass but what's happened to his running game ?

Saturday’s test against Wales at Cardiff will be even more challenging but the All Blacks side will also be much much stronger with the expected return of the Barrett brothers, Scott, Beaudin and Jordie, Sam Whitelock and Ardie Savea and a new mid-field.

Sam Whitelock takes over the captaincy

Sadly, captain Sam Cane and hooker Dane Coles tours are over due to injuries suffered in Tokyo, Coles during the warm-up. No disrespect to these great players but their time is up at test level and this is surely an opportunity for the All Blacks selectors to open their eyes wider and get the young guns, Dalton Papali’i and Asafo Aumua into World Cup contention.

The makeup of the loose-forward mix is nowhere near set in stone heading into next year’s World Cup and there’s at least two forwards out injured at present who will almost certainly be front runners for France, Ethan Blackadder and Cullen Grace.

Really good to see Billy Harmon get his opportunity and lets hope he gets game time to prove his worth as a genuine number seven.

Sevu Reece on his way to a great try...

Myself (John Alexander) and our regular rugby analyst Greg Brimble discuss the latest performances by the Black Ferns and All Blacks and one thing is certain, we have both fallen in love with this Black Ferns team. Their skill, their style of play with a smile on their faces is just a joy to watch and now many of them are household rugby names. 

Interview & Story by John Alexander | Supporting Images sourced by Absolutely Famous.

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