In a preview of next year’s World Cup, the two top ranked women’s teams in the world went toe-to-toe at Donnybrook Stadium in Dublin on Wednesday.The New Zealand Black Ferns held the upper hand in the end, besting a Canadian squad that included a few West Shore players by a 20-10 score.
Canada got second half tries from Magali Harvey and Laura Russell but that wasn’t enough to overcome the three tries and boot from New Zealand’s Kendra Cocksedge.
An uneven performance didn’t help the Canadians’ cause.
“We weren’t consistent today,” head coach Francois Tatier said. “We were able to score tries but we gave away soft penalties. We were courageous, we never gave up, but it just wasn’t enough today.”
New Zealand led 8-0 at the interval but Canada came roaring back with a Harvey try that was set up with a timely interception from Westshore RFC’s Latoya Blackwood.
New Zealand answered immediately with a try of their own, pushing them to a 15-5 lead.
With the Black Ferns down a woman, Canada cut the lead to 15-10 with 15 minutes to play when Russell peeled away from traffic for a score.
New Zealand responded once again, sealing the victory.
“We’re not happy,” captain Kelly Russell said. “We’re disappointed with the way we came out and played. We didn’t start playing our game until midway through the second half. The girls give it their all every minute of the game. We can’t ask for more. We just have to be more switched on when we hit the pitch.”
In addition to Blackwood, Westshore RFC was also represented by Barbara Mervin and Emily Belchos.
The match up was the second of a three-game November tour for the Canadian women, who have been drawn into the same pool as New Zealand for next year’s World Cup.
Canada rocked Ireland by a 48-7 score on Saturday, with Belchos scoring one of Canada’s seven tries in an emphatic victory over the fifth-ranked Irish.
Despite the lopsided score, Blackwood said it wasn’t an easy victory.
“The score does not reflect how tough it was,” she said. “I think we performed well. We had a week to prepare and that really helped.”
Canada will be back on the pitch on Saturday when they face England, the reigning World Cup champions.