The Kiwi Ferns secured a 28-10 victory over Tonga at Eden Park, largely thanks to an outstanding performance by Abigail Roache, who scored a hat-trick. However, it was not a completely flawless performance from the Kiwi Ferns, as errors started creeping into their attack, and Tonga’s defense held stronger than expected.
The Kiwi Ferns took an early lead with Roache scoring two tries in the first 10 minutes. Still, Tonga managed to fight back and scored a try in the 25th minute with Tiana Penitani crossing the line, bringing the score to 10-6, which remained that way until halftime.
The second half started with a powerful move by Amelia Pasikala, who powered through three defenders to extend the Kiwi Ferns’ lead. Unfortunately, Pasikala’s impressive performance was cut short when she suffered a severe leg injury due to a dangerous hip-drop tackle from Ilaisaane Taufa. A tearful Taufa was sent off the field temporarily.
With Tonga reduced to 12 players, the Kiwi Ferns capitalized and broke away, with Roache securing her third try of the afternoon. Annessa Biddle and Mele Hufanga added further points for the Kiwi Ferns, while Tiana Penitani scored her second try for Tonga as a consolation.
Kiwi Ferns coach Ricky Henry expressed mixed thoughts on the result, describing it as “a bit scratchy.” He emphasized the need to review the tape to identify areas for improvement.
The afternoon of rugby league action at Eden Park began with the NZ Kiwis A team defeating Tonga A by 36-26, with the Kiwis’ match against Toa Samoa closing out the day’s proceedings.