Portia Woodman scored four tries as the Black Ferns beat the USA 45-12 in Belfast on Tuesday to book their place in the Women’s World Cup final.
New Zealand were favourites coming into this semi-final, but needed a strong second-half performance to overcome the resistant Eagles.
The Black Ferns started off cautiously, while the USA showed wonderful composure to keep their opponents in check during the early stages. After leading 15-7 at the interval, New Zealand ran riot with six second-half tries, including a hat-trick from Woodman, whose tally for the tournament now sits at 16.
An early try by flyhalf Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali put New Zealand in the lead, but wing Kirsten Thomas’ converted effort gave the Eagles a two-point advantage. A penalty by Kendra Cocksedge and a converted try by Woodman saw the winners wrestle back the ascendancy, which they did not relinquish again.
It was one-way traffic after the break. Woodman breached the USA defence three more times to round off her scoring spree, while prop Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate and influential centre Kelly Brazier also got their names on the scoresheet.
The Eagles added a second try to their tally, but it was not enough to prevent a big defeat.
New Zealand – Tries: Portia Woodman (4), Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali, Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate, Kelly Brazier. Conversion: Kendra Cocksedge (2). Penalties: Cocksedge (2).
USA – Tries: Alev Kelter, Kirsten Thomas. Conversion: Kelter.
New Zealand – 15 Selica Winiata, 14 Portia Woodman, 13 Stacey Waaka, 12 Kelly Brazier, 11 Renee Wickliffe, 10 Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali, 9 Kendra Cocksedge, 8 Aroha Savage, 7 Sarah Goss, 6 Charmaine McMenamin, 5 Charmaine Smith, 4 Eloise Blackwell, 3 Aldora Itunu, 2 Fiao’o Faamausili (c), 1 Toka Natua.
Subs: 16 Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate, 17 Sosoli Talawadua, 18 Aleisha Nelson, 19 Rebecca Wood, 20 Lesley Ketu, 21 Linda Itunu, 22 Theresa Fitzpatrick, 23 Carla Hohepa.
USA – 15 Cheta Emba, 14 Naya Tapper, 13 Nicole Heavirland, 12 Alev Kelter, 11 Kirsten Thomas, 10 Kimber Rozier, 9 Deven Owsiany, 8 Jordan Gray, 7 Kate Zackary, 6 Sara Parsons, 5 Alycia Washington, 4 Stacey Bridges, 3 Tiffany Faaee (c), 2 Katy Augustyn, 1 Catie Benson.
Subs: Samantha Pankey, 17 Hope Rogers, 18 Nick James, 19 Abby Gustaitis, 20 Kristine Sommer, 21 Kayla Canett-Oca, 22 Tess Feury, 23 Jess Wooden.