The Wallaroos fell short in Sydney on Saturday night.
What are we talking about after their 31-11 loss to the Black Ferns?
1. Wallaroos take a step forward in Sydney
The introduction of the Super W and a more focused Wallaroos program are clearly already paying dividends for Australia. There is still a long way to go against a Black Ferns team that recently turned fully professional but the gulf that showed two years ago on a similar stage has been shortened. On that day in Auckland, the Wallaroos went down 67-3 and in last year’s fixture it was a 44-17 loss for the Wallaroos. It wil be iinteresting to see if they can close the gap even further in Auckland next week.
2. Black Ferns too well-drilled
The gap between the two teams could clearly be seen by the way the Black Ferns found the line. Skipper and hooker Fiaoo Faamausili had a hat-trick off two lineouts and another driving maul situation. A late scrum gave the Black Ferns an extra confidence boss as well, continuing to drive home the gap in that area. It’s something that takes time to nail down and the Wallaroos will have more of that as the XVs games develops in Australia.
3. Chancellor steps up
The Wallaroos were outmuscled at times but the performance of their three loose forwards was something to behold. Grace Hamilton has become one of the side’s most consistent players but it was the showing from debutant Emily Chancellor that really impressed. The new six set up the Wallaroos’ only try and finished with eight tackles and a turnover for her defensive efforts. Watch this space.
3. Robinson proves props can do it all
Normally it’s the backs who line up in front of goal but the Wallaroos went back to the future on Saturday, handing prop Emily Robinson the reins at the sticks. The last forward to goal kick for the Wallabies was John Eales but it would take a rugby encyclopedia to try and remember when a prop might have lined up in the green and gold outside of token milestone kicks at goal. Robinson was accurate with her kicks too and it's great to see a forward proving they can do it all.
4. Healthy crowd challenges record
It’s hard to gauge the attendance for the first half of a double header but regular scans of the crowd picked up some healthy numbers for the Wallaroos match. In the final 15 minutes the crowd reached 28,846. That number eclipsed the previous record of 17,440 set in the Six Nations earlier this year. Though it’s not clear whether it’s an official record given this wasn’t a standalone fixture, getting anywhere that amount of people watching women’s rugby can only be a good thing.
5. Get the ball to Mahalia
Mahalia Murphy has played on some of the biggest Sevens stages and her X-Factor was critical for giving the Wallaroos go forward on Saturday night. She couldn't quite get to the line in the clash but she put the side in their attacking zone at important times. Her experience and talent will continue to be a critical part of the Wallaroos structure going forward.