As seen on NRL.com
The Kiwi Ferns have booked their place in the World Cup semi-finals after beating Cook Islands 34-4 in the second round of group play on Monday morning (AEDT).
New Zealand scored three first-half tries to lead 14-0 at the break, before running in a further four in the second 40 minutes to secure the result, which could have been more impressive but for only three of their tries being converted.
While the performance was far from convincing – particularly when you compare it to Australia’s 74-0 victory over the same side last week – it was enough to ensure the Kiwi Ferns are safely through to the knockout stages ahead of playing the Jillaroos in their final group game.
Halfback Raecene McGregor and debutante Mele Hufanga both impressed for coach Ricky Henry, each scoring two tries, while up front Annetta Nu’uausala was strong, finishing with 142 metres and eight tackle busts.
Cooks Islands fought on bravely after losing co-captain and chief playmaker Kimiora Breayley-Nati to a game-ending head knock two minutes into the game in York.
A magical run from Raecene McGregor, featuring a couple of dummies which bamboozled the would-be defence. This solo effort showed great vision from McGregor, who has continued on from a brilliant NRLW season with the Roosters.
“We got a win tonight which is all we were aiming to do, but we have got a lot of work [to do] with our group. We were pretty clunky, didn’t execute what we wanted to… we will review the video and come back out here and hopefully play well against Australia.” – New Zealand coach Ricky Henry.
“Really proud of our girls’ effort tonight. We just needed to be better with our chase and defence tonight, it just wasn’t up to it. One more game to go, so we are looking forward to France.” – Cook Islands coach Rusty Matua.
New Zealand face the world champion Jillaroos up next, with the winner to claim top spot out of the group. Cook Islands play France, with an eye on finishing their World Cup campaign on a high.