Last Updated: 22/10/22 10:49am
Tournament hosts New Zealand racked up their third consecutive bonus point win of the Rugby World Cup with a 57-0 thrashing of Scotland, who have been eliminated.
The Black Ferns brushed Scotland aside with a devastating first-half display with Renee Holmes notching up 22 points, including two tries and six conversions, as the defending champions ran rampant.
Holmes’ first try put New Zealand in front in the second minute and Wayne Smith’s team were never challenged by a heavily out-gunned Scotland side.
Ayesha Leti-i’iga added the second eight minutes later and further tries from Sarah Hirini, Liana Mikaele-Tu’u and Theresa Fitzpatrick opened up a significant gap, before Renee Wickliffe scored twice late in the half.
Maiakawanakaulani Roos and Holmes crossed the line in the second half as the defending champions eased to victory.
Scotland head coach Bryan Easson believed his team were left to rue missed opportunities.
“We got caught cold a little bit, but second half we kept the ball so much better. It shows what they’re all about,” he told BBC Sport.
“We’re ready to kick on again and we want to be back on this stage. The two losing bonus points could have been two wins – that’s how close we are.”
Australia booked their place in the quarter-finals and left Wales sweating on their future in the competition with a hard-fought 13-7 victory in Whangarei.
Two penalties from Lori Cramer were the difference between the teams, with the win ensuring the Australians finish second in Pool A behind already-qualified New Zealand.
The result leaves Wales, who picked up a losing bonus point, in third place in the standings. Ioan Cunningham’s side could still advance as one of the two best third-placed finishers, depending on the outcome other group matches.
Australians took the lead in the fifth minute when Iliseva Batibasaga gathered the ball at the back of a ruck before a dummied pass bought her the space to sprint under the posts to score, with Cramer striking a successful conversion.
Wales levelled in the 23rd minute when Sioned Harries touched down after a pick-and-go from close range, and Elinor Snowsill’s kick made it over the bar via the inside of the post.
Cramer’s sweetly struck penalty on the stroke of half-time gave the Australians a slender advantage at the interval before both teams cancelled each other out throughout the second half.
Wales were given late hope when Australian replacement Kaitlan Leaney was given a yellow card for a dangerous tackle on Alex Callender with 10 minutes remaining, but Cramer’s penalty two minutes from time sealed the win.
The defeat for Fiji against France means only a South Africa victory over England would be enough to prevent Wales from going through.
“The biggest frustration is we felt we were the better team, you could see the growth in the side from the last few months”, Wales head coach Ioan Cunningham said to the WRU.
“At times we looked far more comfortable than them but we just didn’t convert that into points and when you’re without territory and possession, pressure usually takes its toll.
“We can take heart from some of the stuff we put together today. We want to be playing the best teams in the world and if we get to a quarter-final, whether we face England, the Black Ferns or another top team, we’ll relish the opportunity.”
France booked a place in the quarter-finals with a purposeful 44-0 victory over Fiji in the third match on Saturday.
Both teams went into the contest with a chance of progressing through to the knockout stages, but Les Bleues took control of the contest early on and finished the day having scored seven tries.
Marine Menager opened the scoring after 10 minutes with a try out wide, before Melissandre Llorens added their second on the other wing 20 minutes later.
Maelle Filopon added five-pointers of her own either side of half-time, with her team having led 20-0 at the interval.
Emeline Gros brought about the try-scoring bonus point and France then kept their foot on the gas.
The final tries came from Emilie Boulard and Celia Domain, while Fiji finished the contest with 14 players after full-back Roela Radiniyavuni received her second yellow card of the match in the final minutes.
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