A third straight bonus-point win and their biggest of the competition to date saw the Black Ferns Development XV clinch the Oceania Rugby Women's Championship 2019 title with a round to spare in Lautoka on Tuesday.
Having seen off Fiji and Australia A in convincing fashion and without a point conceded, the Wayne Maxwell-coached side rounded off a hugely successful campaign by putting Papua New Guinea to the sword 131-0.
The Black Ferns Development XV ran in 10 unanswered tries in the first half with another 11 scored after the break against a Palais side that never gave up despite the obvious gulf between the sides. Natahlia Moors' four tries made her the tournament's top try-scorer with six, while Lauren Balsillie and Saphire Abraham grabbed a hat-trick apiece and Pia Tapsell, Langi Veainu and Grace Brooker got doubles.
Maxwell said that the New Zealand management team was happy with the players’ performance and looked forward to working closely with them moving forward.
“Our new players really came together and it was their first time in a high performance environment, and we challenged them with the short turnaround with a few things we wanted them to do on the park – and they came out really well over the last three games,” he said.
“It’s been very helpful to have some good quality games, the score must not have reflected that today, but I know that both teams put their best on the park. For us, it was just about staying in our system and just keep playing our game and so we got a lot out of that.”
Stewart bags four in Australian win
In the second match of the day, Australia A beat Samoa 27-5.
Australia A scored four tries in the first half – all by electric winger Maya Stewart. However, the second half was much more evenly contested with Manusina matching their opponents on the scoreboard.
Marilyn Live crashed over from a pick-and-go five minutes after the restart to make it 22-5 and Manusina remained on top for long periods but were unable to turn that pressure into further points.
Instead, it was Australia A who had the final say when replacement Lillyann Mason-Spice scored with the last act of the match.
“We came into this game wanting to stay composed, sticking to our game and sticking to our structures and sticking to the shapes we’ve been working on in training for the last few weeks,” said Australia A captain Michaela Leonard.
“It has been an incredible experience and we’ve really grown and increased our skills during this time in Fiji.”
The tournament concludes on Saturday with Samoa and Fiji meeting for the second time in just over a week – Fijiana won 26-7 last Friday – in a match that will determine the region's qualifier Rugby World Cup 2021.
The loser will still have the chance to qualify for the showpiece event in New Zealand, facing either Tonga or Papua New Guinea for the right to enter the global repechage that will determine the 12th and final qualifier for RWC 2021.