Women's Rugby World Cup: Wales 12-44 New Zealand

New Zealand's Selica Winiata closes in on Wales wing Jasmine Joyce
New Zealand's Selica Winiata closes in on Wales wing Jasmine Joyce
Wales v New Zealand
Wales (0) 12
Tries: Harries, Clay Con: Snowsill
New Zealand (10) 44
Tries: Winiata 3, Waaka, Wickliffe 2, Woodman, Blackwell Cons: Cocksedge 2

Former champions New Zealand inflicted a heavy defeat on Wales in their World Cup opener.

Despite spells of Welsh pressure, the ruthless Black Ferns led 20-0 at half-time with tries for Selica Winiata, Stacey Waaka and two for Renee Wickliffe.

Portia Woodman and Eloise Blackwell added tries after the break, before Sioned Harries crashed over for Wales.

Melissa Clay also crossed for Wales, but Winiata completed her hat-trick.

That added gloss to New Zealand's impressive win.

Wales in the group of death

Drawn alongside four-time champions New Zealand and 2014 runners-up Canada in arguably the World Cup's toughest group, Wales were given next to no chance of reaching the semi-finals in most pre-tournament predictions.

They had mustered just one win during this year's Six Nations but, with a youthful and exuberant squad, they arrived in Ireland with hopes of confounding expectations.

Rowland Phillips' side offered spirited resistance against New Zealand and enjoyed a prolonged period of pressure in the first half.

But they could not find a way beyond the imposing wall, and the Black Ferns ruthlessly exploited Wales' profligacy as Winiata and Wickliffe both scored tries on the cusp of half-time.

It was a harsh lesson but one Wales learned from, with Harries and Clay's second-half tries offering reasons to be hopeful ahead of Thursday's encounter with Canada.

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Carys Phillips: Wales captain praises 'phenomenal' Welsh set-piece

New Zealand signal their intent

New Zealand started this tournament ranked second in the world behind reigning champions England, but their unrivalled four World Cup titles - all won in succession - were evidence of their enormous pedigree.

The Black Ferns' shock defeat against Ireland in their opening 2014 World Cup fixture was as monumental as the 20-match winning run in the competition it had brought to an end, stretching back to 1991.

That only served to inspire Glenn Moore's side and, after embarking on another 13-game victorious streak halted by England in June, New Zealand were determined not to allow history to repeat itself in Dublin.

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Wales must stay positive - Phillips

They have never lost to Wales and that record never looked in doubt.

Despite Wales' dogged effort, they were no match for the Black Ferns' blistering back line.

The back three of Winiata, Woodman and Wickliffe looked particularly dangerous and, although stiffer challenges await, this was an impressive statement of intent from New Zealand.

Wales coach Rowland Phillips told BBC Wales: "We're disappointed with the result. The performance actually warranted a better score than how it ended up.

"But from a positive point of view, so much good came out of the game for us.

"Our set-piece was certainly a massive positive and the way we played at times, scoring two tries and creating other opportunities we didn't take.

"We have to look at that performance as a positive for us to keep building through the competition."

Wales: Dyddgu Hywel (Scarlets); Elen Evans (RGC), Gemma Rowland (Dragons), Hannah Jones (Scarlets), Jasmine Joyce (Scarlets); Elinor Snowsill (Dragons), Keira Bevan (Ospreys); Caryl Thomas (Scarlets) Carys Phillips, (Ospreys, capt), Amy Evans (Ospreys), Rebecca Rowe (Dragons), Mel Clay (Ospreys), Alisha Butchers (Scarlets), Rachel Taylor (RGC), Sioned Harries (Scarlets)

Replacements: Kelsey Jones (Ospreys), Cerys Hale (Dragons), Meg York (Dragons), Siwan Lillicrap (Ospreys), Lleucu George (Scarlets), Sian Moore (Dragons), Robyn Wilkins (Ospreys), Jodie Evans (Scarlets)

New Zealand: Selica Winiata; Portia Woodman, Stacey Waaka, Kelly Brazier, Renee Wickliffe; Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali, Kendra Cocksedge; Toka Natua, Fiao'o Faamausili (capt), Aldora Itunu; Eloise Blackwell, Rebecca Wood; Charmaine Smith, Sarah Goss, Aroha Savage

Replacements: Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate, Sosoli Talawadua, Aotearoa Mata'u, Lesley Ketu, Charmaine McMenamin, Theresa Fitzpatrick, Carla Hohepa, Kristina Sue

Referee: Ian Tempest (RFU)

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