Australia booked their place in the quarter-finals of the women’s Rugby World Cup on Saturday with a hard-fought 13-7 win over Wales in Whangarei as hosts New Zealand handed Scotland a 57-0 thrashing.
Two penalties from Lori Cramer earned Australia a victory that ensures Jay Tregonning’s team finish second in Pool A behind New Zealand, who notched up a third successive bonus point win with their shutout of the Scots.
Australia’s success leaves Wales, who picked up a losing bonus point, in third place in the pool standings.
Ioan Cunningham’s side could still advance as one of the two best third-placed finishers, depending on the outcome of the remaining group matches.
The 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 and Cramer struck 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 halftime 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.
Australia join New Zealand as well as England and Canada in booking their place in the next round of the competition.
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-l’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.
France will meet Fiji in Pool C in the day’s final game at Northlands Events Centre.