Wallaroos steal thriller in Auckland

The Wallaroos overcame some early nerves to steal a thrilling 21-19 win over the Auckland Storm on Tuesday.

Australia took the lead for the first time with just seven minutes to go in the match, after clawing back from an 11-point deficit to clinch victory.

With 11 uncapped players in the team and less than a day to acclimatise ahead of the tour match, the Wallaroos got off to a shaky start with Kiwi Shannon Willoughby scoring the first try of the match.

Wallaroos coach Paul Verrell admitted his team was 'shell shocked' in the opening stages, battlign windy conditions and an expereinced Auckland outfit.

"They were a bit shell shocked in that first half. There was a really strong wind so they put us under pressure and it was a good fight back," he said.

"Speaking to some of the girls after the game, that was probably one of the toughest games they've played, just consistently a lot of pressure for them.

"I'm glad we got the win and they've got that little bit of experience and it's probably giving us a few headaches now leading into the side for Saturday."

Australia hit back within three minutes, taking advantage of some quick attacking phases to trail by just two points, before the Storm added two more, through Delzea Salamo-Tuua and Doris Taufateau.

A Chloe Leaupepe penalty in the dying minutes capped a 13-point run for Australia and clinched the win for the visitors.

Fullback Sarah Riordan is one of those who might give Verrell some pause for though when picking a side for Saturday's first Test against the Black Ferns, while young playmaker Leaupepe stood up in the absence of skipper Ash Hewson.

The forwards found their feet as the match went on, earning a tighthead in the second half after creating pressure in the scrums.

"In that first 10-15 minutes when they were under pressure, coughed up three tries in that first half, but to their credit they just fought back,  listened to what we wanted to do, played our structures, our attacking structures were excellent and our set piece got better as they got into the game and understood one another's play and what they needed to do to compete."

As they look towards Saturday's Eden Park encounter, Verrell said the focus would be on shoring up their defence and set piece.

"We've trained really hard with our defensive structure, worked today but we got caught short a couple of times, so that's a focus for us leading into Saturday," he said.

"The other thing is our timing in lineouts and scrums - when they worked, they worked really well but timing and knowing what we can actually achieve in the scrum.

"We can do it, it's just matter of believing in what we’ve done."

There was one downside to their win, with veteran Rebecca Clough ruled out of the tour after re-injuring her knee during the game.

Clough was under an injury cloud after hurting the joint in the women's nationals in June but was hopeful of making it through the New Zealand trip unscathed.


Auckland Storm 19

Tries: Willoughby, Salamo-Tuua,Taufateau

Cons: Jensen 2

Wallaroos 21

Tries:  Jewett, Riordan, Masters

Pens: Leaupepe 2

The Buildcorp Wallaroos take on the Black Ferns on Saturday at 3pm AEDT, the first half of a Bledisloe double header at Eden Park. For all the latest Wallaroos news, updates and player profiles head to wallaroos.com.au