Ruby Tui magic starts the celebrations for Black Ferns

Patrick McKendry
Source: 1News

Ruby Tui’s brilliance in receiving the ball under pressure against Canada, chipping over the last defender, getting the perfect bounce and scoring in the corner only minutes after one of the best-loved women’s players in the country threw a needless forward pass probably summed up her team’s afternoon in Waitakere on Sunday.

Black Ferns midfielder Amy du Plessis is tackled during the Test against Canada at Trusts Arena.

It was hot and cold, but in the end it was very hot. Six days after they turned the game around in the second half of their Test win over the Wallaroos in Tauranga, the Black Ferns again got the job done after the break with a vastly more accurate performance for a 28-0 win.

And anyone arguing about Tui’s status as a near national treasure probably wasn’t present for the team announcement just before kick-off at Trusts Arena.

She got the loudest cheer by far and while the play didn’t go her way in a scrappy first half, it did after the break and she needed no second invitation.

Minutes after her try gave the Black Ferns an element of comfort, she popped up to kill a threatening lineout drive on the Black Ferns’ tryline after Kaipo Olsen-Baker was yellow carded for doing it illegally in a previous maul.

The upshot, after lock Maiakawanakaulani Roos scored a close-range try and the Black Ferns cut loose in the final five minutes with further tries for Chelsea Bremner and Tui again, is that the Black Ferns are the only unbeaten team in the Pacific Four Series after the United States held on to beat Australia 16-14 in the earlier Test on the same ground.

And Wayne Smith’s team will travel to Whangarei for the final Test against the USA next Saturday with the expectations of a clean sweep four months before the World Cup here.

After their well-documented recent wayward meanderings they are definitely travelling in the right direction and Smith will be pleased with his team’s progress in terms of fitness, determination and the ability to fight back under pressure in games. Keeping the Canadians scoreless will suit a notorious stickler for accuracy on defence during his time with the All Blacks, too.

The first half was frustrating for the Black Ferns, who had a huge territorial advantage thanks to the wind at their backs but could only score two penalties through Hazel Tubic.

They were making such good inroads through the middle that Canada appeared ready to snap at any time but instead of continuing the direct route the Black Ferns opted to spread the ball closer to the sidelines only to lose it.

Black Ferns wing Ruby Tui celebrates her try against Canada.

In left wing Ayesha Leti-I’iga, loose forwards Kaipo Olsen-Baker and Alana Bremner and front rowers Luke Connor and Phillipa Love they had players able to break the first tackle with the merest hint of footwork and yet they couldn’t cross the line.

The sinbinning of prop Tanya Kalounivale for two blatant ruck offenses in quick succession added to the sense the Black Ferns were making life difficult for themselves.

Given the lineout work from lock Joanah Ngan-Woo in particular, that weight of territory and possession with no reward could have played on their minds.

Fortunately for them, Canada appeared to have only a lineout maul in terms of attacking weapon and the Black Ferns, who had the stronger scrum, were able to defuse that too.

If the home side were profligate, the Canadians were worse, saving their first concerted offensive until the final minute of the first half.

And while the Black Ferns’ pack, along with the magic of Tui, paved the way for this victory against a nation ranked third in the world, one place below New Zealand, midfielder Amy du Plessis can be extremely satisfied with her Test debut.

She was tough, direct and brought an element that will leave Smith particularly pleased after his first two Tests with the side: a little bit of the fear factor.

Black Ferns: 28 (Ruby Tui 2, Maiakawanakaulani Roos, Chelsea Bremner tries; Hazel Tubic 2 pens, Ruahei Demant con)

Canada: 0

Halftime: 6-0