The Wallaroos have been defeated by the New Zealand Black Ferns at Rotorua International Stadium on Sunday evening, going down 38-3 in Australia’s first match of 2014.
Despite the score ballooning in New Zealand’s favour towards the end of proceedings, the spirited Australian side competed defensively with Black Ferns for a majority of the match with New Zealand only scoring one try in the first half.
Although disappointed to lose, Head Coach Paul Verrell thought the Wallaroos would take a lot from this experience.
“We really came out with great intent in the first half and I think New Zealand was stunned by our commitment to defence.
“I was impressed with our commitment to the breakdown, however there are a number of structural elements of our game we need to work and improve on before we play Canada.
“The spirit of this Wallaroos squad cannot be questioned as they really gave New Zealand a lot to think about and forced them to earn that win.”
The match started strongly with Australia dominating possession in the first ten minutes of the match. Meeting a surprised New Zealand head on in the contact and frequently pushing New Zealand off the ball.
Australia took the lead in the 13th minute of the match through the boot of Ashleigh Hewson who was one of the standout performers for Australia in both defence and attack.
Kendra Cocksedge returned the favour for New Zealand after the Wallaroos were penalised at the breakdown for infringements, levelling the score moments later.
It took New Zealand until the 25th minute to score their first try when Australia was reduced to 14 players with New Zealand finally able to break through the Australian defence through Amira Rule, taking the score to 8-3.
Rebecca Smyth, the flanker for the Wallaroos was a standout for the Australian side. Solid in defence and attack.
New Zealand showed their experience and match time by extending their lead to 11-3 on the cusp of halftime despite Australia having a 61% territorial advantage in the first half.
On the cusp of half time Australia was in range of New Zealand’s try line after a dominant scrum allowed the Wallaroos to surge forward. Australia attacked for several phases, only for New Zealand to escape the Wallaroo’s attack with the try being held up, keeping the score at 11-3 in favour of the host nation.
The second half started strongly for New Zealand with another penalty kick from Cocksedge taking the score to 14-3 after the Wallaroos were penalised again at the breakdown.
Despite Australia never giving up in the second half the experience of New Zealand began to show with the Wallaroos conceding four tries despite holding New Zealand to just one try in the first half.
This was Australia’s first match against International opposition since the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2010.
Australia had 12 debutants receive their first Test cap for the Wallaroos, with ARU CEO, Bill Pulver on hand to present the players with their caps at a post-match function.
The Wallaroos will play Canada this Friday June 6 in the final match of the Tri-Nations tournament.