The first match in a big day of Pacific test action in Auckland and Campbelltown saw some hectic matchplay from both sides, with the scoreline threatening to get well out of hand before NZ triumphed 50-12.
Early on the Kiwi Ferns could not be stopped, rolling through Tonga's middle and finding space on both edges to create points. They were helped by some ill-discipline from Tonga, with penalties and errors mounting up.
It was Page McGregor who crossed for the first of three tries in quick succession for the Kiwi Ferns, although Laishon Jones struggled to make the conversions. With the momentum very firmly against the Tonga side, a sin bin to their hooker Shirley Mailangi for a professional foul didn't help their cause in the slightest.
With Tonga struggling for possession and territory, the Kiwi Ferns kept piling on the pain with three tries in the minutes before halftime. With the New Zealand side leading 30 points to 0 at the break, Tonga were finding themselves thoroughly out-matched.
Despite the huge lead, the Kiwi Ferns didn't let up, scoring another two tries early in the second half, including Madison Barlett crossing for her second. Every set they would just stroll downfield, with Tonga absolutely helpless to stop them.
But four penalties in quick succession against the Kiwi Ferns caused a minor momentum shift, and the mounting pressure ended with China Polata finding her way to the line for Tonga's first points of the match, to cheers from the crowd's large Tongan contingent. Some big defensive efforts from Tonga Women in the second half is something the team can be proud of as they build towards a possible world cup appearance in 2025.
A late consolation for Tonga's Haylee Hifo set the crowd alight again, and she converted her own try to bring the full time scoreline to 50 points to 12.
The Kiwi Ferns will now look to build towards the world cup at the end of the year, while Tonga will need to re-assess as they work towards world cup qualification for France 2025.