BLACK FERNS-A GREAT NIGHT OUT AT REDCLIFFE

Watching my first women’s rugby test live at the ground on Thursday night was a wonderful experience and everything I had hope for.

The World champion Black Ferns made me so proud to be a Kiwi not only the skill and power they played with but the genuine warmth and humility of the ladies after the game as they made their way around signing autographs and doing selfie pics.

I had a brief chat to fullback Renee Holmes and starting halfback and haka leader Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu and both thanked me for coming along to watch.

Women’s rugby has soared in popularity since the highly successful World Cup tournament in New Zealand last season where a World record crowd of over 42,000 watched that brilliant grand final at Eden Park. At Kayo Stadium in Redcliffe (North of Brisbane) a new record crowd  for a Women’s test in Australia of over 7,000 turned up at Dolphins rugby league club headquarters to watch.

Unfortunately the Aussies were no match for the Black Ferns going down 0-50 in the Pacific Four series clash and you could just see from the warm-ups how so much more intense and accurate the World champions were.

This was some performance given the team has not played together since the World Cup final and had six new caps, all of whom can be proud of their performances in retaining the Laurie O’Reilly cup, plus just six members from the win over England started.

BLACK FERNS TOO GOOD

Women’s rugby is a whole new experience and a really good one. They play with genuine freedom and joy, the Black Ferns with their attacking mindset no matter where they are on the field.

The ref is almost anonymous and no one argues about decisions. Kicking is only for variation and as their former coach Wayne Smith told them, kick where the seagulls are, into open space. None of the boring aerial ping pong you often get in men’s rugby.

The speed and skill level of the women is outstanding and the Black Ferns simply had too much power, pace and skill for the Wallaroos, their defence brutal. One thing is clear, new coach Allan Bunting has the forwards going even better than they were at the World Cup obviously with time since being used to further improve the fitness, conditioning and attention to detail.

Teenage second five Sylvia Brunt was named player of the march, geez what a player, two tries and her ability to step and accelerate past defenders was sublime not to mention her brutal defence.

SYLVIA BRUNT - OUTSTANDING !

Just as impressive was champion first-five and skipper Ruahei Demant. Absolute class with her ability to run the game and continually challenge the defence with her running game, while fullback Renee Holmes was all quality.

Winger Mererangi Paul had a debut to remember crossing for two tries, her kick and chase effort showing off her speed.

And the forward pack, eight weapons working with cohesion power and skill after taking half an hour to find their rhythm. They all impressed, none more so than powerhouse prop Tanya Kalounivale who churned out a high work rate, her opening try of the match, a 20 metre demolition derby run a highlight. 

Lock Maiakawanakaulani Roos is an athletic skilful player, her running game often breaching the Aussie defence in close. Flanker Alana Bremner scored a magnificent solo try and her sister and lock Chelsea Bremner had a strong game too and also scored and number eight Liana Mikaela-Tu’u was all power off the back of the scrum.

Hooker Georgia Ponsonby hit her line out targets and ran strongly in her 44 minutes onfield and replacement prop Krystal Murray monstered her Aussie opposite in the scrums and her ball skills were evident in broken play.

The Black Ferns are in North America now where they play Canada in Ottawa next Sunday followed by USA the following Saturday.

Their next match v the Wallaroos is in Hamilton on September 30 then in November comes much anticipated clashes against England and France in New Zealand.

If you haven’t been live to watch the Black Ferns, make an effort when you get an opportunity to do so because they are amazing and the whole experience at Redcliffe has me looking forward to the next time I get a chance to see them play.

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

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