The Kiwi Ferns marched to a 76-0 victory over the Cook Islands in their second pool match at the women’s Rugby League World Cup at Southern Cross Stadium on Sunday.
They ran in 14 tries in a totally dominant performance with speedster Honey Hireme crossing for six tries.
Halfback Kimiora Nati put in another strong showing as she led her team around with her pin-point kicking game and combined strongly with halves partner Raecene McGregor, who crossed for two tries of her own.
The Cook Islands enjoyed a promising opening stanza with its threatening attacking raids causing havoc for the New Zealand defence but it was the Ferns who broke the deadlock with a right-to-left shift at the opposing end which gave Hireme the first try of the contest.
Hireme found open space in the ensuing set with a burst down the left-hand touchline and a second try was looming but wing Atawhai Tupea couldn’t maintain possession in the opposite corner.
While the Cooks Islanders were desperately searching for a quick reprieve, the Ferns were brimming with confidence and rampaging front rower Lilieta Maumau extended their lead after she brushed off a host of defenders on her way to the try-line. Nati converted from in front for a 10-0 lead after 20 minutes.
New Zealand continued its dominance with the forwards laying a strong platform through the middle third and Shontelle Woodman took full advantage as she added her name to the scoresheet.
Nita Maynard was providing significant impact off the bench with some darting runs out of dummy half and a break through the middle was finished with a quick play-the-ball for fellow interchange player Krystal Murray, who crossed for their fourth try.
Hireme and Woodman were causing trouble for the Cook Islands right-edge defence as they combined for three tries in a relentless five-minute period, Hireme grabbing her hat-trick courtesy of some brilliant inside play from Woodman.
Murray was denied a second try in the closing stages of the first half but it made little difference as the Ferns dominated proceedings to take a 38-0 lead at the break.
McGregor split the defence in the early exchanges of the second half and was brought down just metres out from the try-line, Hireme capitalising on the broken defence and crossing for her fourth try of the game.
She eventually grabbed her fifth after being previously denied by the video referee with Nati unable to convert as the Ferns took a 48-0 lead after 50 minutes.
Fullback Apii Nicholls-Paulau was putting in another stellar performance with some evasive runs and tireless efforts from the back and soon turned provider for McGregor with a brilliant offload that put the five-eighth over from close range.
McGregor raced away for her second try off the following set before Maynard snuck her way over the try-line just five minutes later.
The Cooks were valiant despite trailing on the scoreboard as they continued to fight hard for valuable field position and were frantically scrambling in defence but the left-side attack of the Ferns couldn’t be stopped as Hireme sprinted away for her eighth try of the tournament.
Murray scored her second try with a bulldozing run from 30 metres in the closing stages before her team backed it up with some committed goal-line defence to hold out the Cook Islands and finish with a dominant 76-0 victory.
Southern Cross Stadium, Sydney
New Zealand Kiwi Ferns 76 (Honey Hireme 6, Raecene McGregor 2, Shontelle Woodman 2, Krystal Murray 2, Lilieta Maumau, Nita Maynard tries; Kimiora Nati 10 conversions).
Cook Islands 0.
Halftime: 38-0 Kiwi Ferns.
Referee: Bianca Zietsmen (Wales).