Test preview: Black Ferns v France (2)

Getty Images

Campbell Burnes     16 Nov 2018     Getty Images

Match details: Saturday November 17, 2.30pm (2.30am Sunday November 18 NZT) at Stade des Alpes, Grenoble
Referee: Joy Neville (Ireland)
Played: 5 (1996-2018)
Wins: Black Ferns 5, France 0
Last match: Black Ferns 14 France 0 (November 9, 2018)

All the signs point to a better display from the Black Ferns ahead of their fifth and final international of 2018.


They have a settled squad, they have had an extra day’s preparation in France after flying from Chicago last week, the weather should be better in Grenoble, and the team will be keen to send off 40-Test veteran Linda Itunu into her retirement with a quality outing.

Furthermore, they will be buoyed by the midweek announcement that New Zealand will host Women’s Rugby World Cup 2021, the first time the global women’s rugby jamboree has come to the Southern Hemisphere.

It was admitted that France rattled the Black Ferns during the first half of the first Test in Toulon, the 0-0 deadlock only broken in the 52nd minute before pulling away for the final 14-0 result as they stemmed the error rate and tactically took control.

The decision to have a 6-2 bench split was the correct one as it transpired in the wet, muddy conditions. Coach Glenn Moore will have overseen some serious scrum work after France exposed the Black Ferns in that area.

The hope is that the dry afternoon conditions in Grenoble will be more conducive to the running game the Black Ferns favour, but the onus is, as ever on the pack, to deliver swift, quality ball so that the back four, largely unemployed in Toulon, can again show their wares.

“Every time this team pulls on a black jersey they want to put out their best performance, and this Saturday will be no exception. This will be their last Test match for 2018 and we all want to finish on a high. It’s going to be high intensity and we will need to retain our composure,” says Moore.

“We expected that kind of physicality from the French because we had two powerful forward packs trying to assert dominance over each other. I thought we fronted that part of it really well. We’re well aware that France will be wanting to put a stop to us finishing on top and that just spurs us on more. The team is pumped to put on another great performance.”
Auckland wing Natahlia Moors will be primed for a Test debut, replacing Marcelle Parkes on the bench. The 22-year-old played well for the Storm during the Farah Palmer Cup and has a nose for the tryline.

France has made a clutch of changes, some injury-enforced, while two players, backs Nassira Konde and Chloe Pelle, have been released to the sevens programme. Celine Ferer and Lise Arricastre come into starting berths in the pack, Caroline Boujard moves from the wing to fullback for the injured Montserrat Amedee, while Maelle Filopon will don the No 13 jersey.

“For Saturday’s match, we must be capable of again doing what went well in the first match,” says France coach Samuel Cherouk.

Caroline Boujard, Cyrielle Banet, Maelle Filopon, Carla Neisen, Ian Jason, Caroline Drouin, Pauline Bourdon, Romane Menager, Celine Ferer, Gaelle Hermet (c), Safi N’Diaye, Lenaig Corson, Julie Duval, Caroline Thomas, Lise Arricastre
Reserves: Laure Touye, Annaelle Deshayes, Mailys-Ohia Traore, Audrey Forlani, Fiona Lecat, Yanna Rivoalen, Gabrielle Vernier, Doriane Constanty

Black Ferns: Selica Winiata, Renee Wickliffe, Stacey Waaka, Ruahei Demant, Ayesha Leti-I’iga, Krysten Cottrell, Kendra Cocksedge, Aroha Savage, Les Elder, Charmaine McMenamin, Charmaine Smith, Eloise Blackwell, Aldora Itunu, Fiao’o Faamausili (c), Pip Love
Reserves: Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate, Leilani Perese, Aleisha-Pearl Nelson, Jackie Patea-Fereti, Linda Itunu, Kristina Sue, Monica Tagoai, Natahlia Moors