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New Zealand ran over and around a young USA Saturday at Soldier Field in Chicago, earning an emphatic 67-6 win. With 13 debutants in the American lineup, the Black Ferns put on a clinic, dominating every phase of the game.
The American lineout was especially poor, as the Black Ferns used the set piece and subsequent driving mauls to gain the early advantage. Once the flood gates opened, they poured it on through the backs.
The Black Ferns went on the offensive early, driving deep into the attacking end after the Eagles knocked on their first possession. Kaitlyn Broughton tackled her opposite into touch just short of the try line, earning an American lineout, but the Black Ferns stole the lineout and drove a maul in for the game’s first score. Kendra Cocksedge converted, making it 7-0 to the visitors.
Solid defense pressured New Zealand into kicking on its next possession, and the Eagles went on the attack immediately, switching the field through fullback Meya Bizer. The Americans built phases until the Black Fern defense cracked with a penalty. Kimber Rozier lined up a shot at goal and put the USA on the board; 7-3.
New Zealand extended its lead near the 15-minute-mark, picking and driving from short range to dot down a second try. It was inside center Chelsea Alley doing the damage. Moments later, the Black Ferns punched in a second try via a driving maul, this time off an attacking lineout.
Broughton saved her second try of the game by hauling Renee Wickliffe in from behind after the wing had caught a cross kick from Cocksedge and looked to be off to the races. Broughton’s teammates scrambled in defense and stymied the threat temporarily.
New Zealand blew some wind in the USA’s sails with a missed attacking lineout that looked like it would end up in a sure try. The throw and catch didn’t connect, debutant blindside flanker Rachel Johnson snagged the loose ball and charged forward. The Eagles kept the ball moving wide, and a cutout pass from Kimber Rozier over the outstretched hands of Wickliffe set Broughton free.
The Life alum carried deep into the attacking end, and Rozier saw the Black Ferns under-resourced in the backfield and chipped a kick over the defensive line. Wing Kelsi Stockert was hot in pursuit, but the ball rolled to touch through the in-goal before she could catch up to it.
New Zealand went immediately back on the offensive, driving deep into the American end. The Eagles turned them over in the breakdown just short of the line, but the exit kick didn’t gain much ground, and the Black Ferns drove in a third try through the maul.
The Eagles managed one more attacking possession just before the end of the half, earning Rozier a second shot at goal. She banged it over, leaving the USA down 26-6 at intermission.
The Black Ferns seamlessly carried momentum into the second half, knocking on a sure try before actually punching in another to extend the lead. Fullback Selica Winiata dotted down another in short order after Stockert broke up an offload attempt. Winiata scooped up the loose ball and raced in.
In total, New Zealand dotted down six second-half tries to outscore the Americans 41-0 in the final 40 minutes. USA head coach Rob Cain emptied his bench, at least gaining some valuable experience for his youngsters.