Black Ferns demolish Wallaroos in North Harbour, WXV1 aspirations up in smoke


They may have lost the Pacific Four Series, but the Black Ferns bounced back in style from their loss to Canada, continuing their dominance of the O’Reilly Cup with a thrashing of the Wallaroos at North Harbour Stadium.

The 67-19 victory equals the highest number of points the Black Ferns have ever inflicted on their Trans-Tasman rivals, equaling their 67-3 loss in 2016 – and stretches out their winning streak to 22 matches.

The result sees Jo Yapp’s side finish bottom of the Pacific Four ladder in 2024, meaning they will fail to qualify for the WXV1 series later this year in Canada. 

Instead, they will drop down to WXV2, which will take place in September later this year in South Africa and will see them take on the already-qualified Springboks Women, Italy and Scotland – and they will be joined by a European play-in winner (Wales or Spain), and the winner of the Asia Rugby Women’s Championship, which concludes in June.

The loss also means their qualification pathway for the 2025 World Cup change significantly.

Despite the heavy loss, several players stood out in a tough afternoon for the visitors, with an improved performance in the second half spearheaded by Arabella McKenzie, who confirmed her stranglehold on the flyhalf position with two tries and plenty of moments that stretched the Kiwi defence.

Bridie O’Gorman also leaves North Harbour with her stocks firmly raised, immediately improving the Wallaroos scrum upon her arrival in the second half.

Incredibly, the match is also the most number of points the Wallaroos have ever scored against the Black Ferns, beating their 45–17 loss in 2018.

However, while the second half was a notable improvement, the match was well and truly over by that point, with Jo Yapp’s side especially exposed defensively around the ruck, and in post-contact metres as many Kiwi opportunities came off players not being held.

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Most concerningly, the Wallaroos conceded a monster 47 missed tackles – further adding to concerns of their level of physicality this season, and leaves Jo Yapp under pressure, with goals to secure a second WXV1 berth up in smoke.

For the Black Ferns, it was a stunning return to form following their shock loss to Canada, with many new exciting prospects standing up.

The match started out in promising fashion, with both sides trading tries early in the opening twenty minutes and the visitors appearing the match the hosts in terms of physicality. 

Kennedy Simon (obscured) of the Black Ferns celebrates with teammates after scoring their teams eleventh try during the 2024 Pacific Four Series Round 4 & 2024 O’Reilly Cup 1st Test match between New Zealand Black Ferns and Australia Wallaroos at North Harbour Stadium on May 25, 2024 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Fiona Goodall – World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

However, the Black Ferns kicked on the final twenty minutes of the first half, with tries to Katelyn Vahaakolo, Kaipo Olsen-Baker and a hattrick to Mererangi Paul see the scoreline stretch out to an ugly 45-7 at halftime. 

The second half saw a much-improved performance from Australia, with the scrum and backline asking many questions and Maya Stewart scoring a vintage meat pie – however, the result was never in doubt, with Kennedy Simon picking up two tries to bring the home side’s final tally to eleven tries.

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