Woodman blasts Black Ferns past Wales into Women’s Rugby World Cup semis | Women’s Rugby World Cup 2021

Wales could find no answer to the power and pace of hosts New Zealand as their Rugby World Cup run came to an end in a 55-3 quarter-final defeat in Whangarei. Portia Woodman scored her 19th and 20th World Cup tries to overtake England’s Sue Day as the all-time leading try scorer in tournament history.

Woodman got New Zealand’s first 13 minutes in before Ruby Tui, Sarah Hirini and Amy Rule powered the Black Ferns into a 26-3 half-time lead.

It got no better for Wales after the break, with Woodman’s second coming three minutes into the second half, and the defending champions pulled further clear as Luka Connor scored twice, Alana Bremner crossed and Ruahei Demant finished things off.

Wales, beaten 56-12 by New Zealand in pool play, always knew they faced an uphill challenge to knock out the tournament hosts but were never able to get a grip on the game as the Black Ferns’ powerful pack overran them.

The opening try came from a line-out, with New Zealand quickly shifting the ball across the field, finding Woodman with the space to power over. Wales replied with a penalty from Keira Bevan but it was only a temporary reprieve, and moments later Woodman hauled in a high cross-field kick from Demant and laid it off for Tui to do the rest.

New Zealand were relentless. Theresa Fitzpatrick raced through the middle of the field and, though she was stopped short of the line, Woodman laid it off for Hirini to go over in the corner.

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France see off Italy to set up New Zealand showdown


France coach Thomas Darracq hailed the depth in his squad after a big second half powered them into the semi-finals of the Women’s Rugby World Cup with a 39-3 win over Italy.

Wing Joanna Grisez (pictured) claimed a hat-trick in a dominant France performance that sets up a last-four meeting with hosts New Zealand.

Darracq told L’Equipe: “Our first objective was to qualify in the last four. Scoring nearly 40 points against Italy is a great performance.”

Italy kept it close in the first half, trailing 10-3 at the break after Grisez scored her first try early on, but were blown away in the second half – with Darracq crediting the replacements for the impact they had on the game.

“We are really lucky to have a homogeneous squad,” Darracq added. “When they came in, the replacements showed a lot of speed. It was an objective – to maintain our speed to the end. It is very important that the whole group is involved in order to go for victory.

“The message at half-time was to be patient. We knew we had an edge on the Italian team but we wanted to go too fast. The score at half-time should have been more, but we asked the players to play closer to the line, to attack the spaces where Italy were waiting to counter.

“We still have room for improvement but despite everything the scoreline is there and there is great satisfaction.” PA Media

Photograph: Phil Walter/Getty Images AsiaPac

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Ayesha Leti-I’iga was stopped short of the line after a scrum, but with Wales struggling to get out of their own 22 the next try was a matter of time, and it came in the 39th minute when Woodman charged forward after a line-out and Rule finished it off.

After the break, New Zealand picked up where they left off. Three minutes in, they turned it over from a breakdown and Woodman crossed to break Day’s record. Six minutes later the Black Ferns tore up a Wales scrum and replacement Connor, just on for Georgia Ponsonby, got the try.

The contest was over and New Zealand’s semi-final meeting with France booked, but the hosts were out to make a statement as Bremner, Connor again and Demant pushed the score beyond the half-century.

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