What did we learn from the Wallaroos' loss to New Zealand?
1. The streak continues
A win over New Zealand has been elusive for the Wallaroos and Saturday afternoon’s match made it 14 losses in a row dating back to 1994. The Black Ferns are the world’s best rugby side, while they don’t currently hold the World cup, and Australia can now see where they need to improve, a year out from the 2017 Women’s World Cup. New Zealand’s skills and cohesion showed in Auckland and they are the yardstick for women’s rugby.
2. Wallaroos to rebound
More than a handful of Wallaroos had their first taste of Test rugby on Saturday afternoon and they will only be better for it. There is no bigger challenge in rugby than facing New Zealand at Eden Park, doesn’t matter if it’s their women or their men. The Wallaroos will have another chance to overcome the Black Ferns next Wednesday, armed with a touch more knowledge about themselves and their opponents.
3. You can’t give the Black Ferns a chance
The Black Ferns are the best women’s team in the world for a reason and they showed that in the first five minutes on Saturday afternoon. Australia fullback Sarah Riordan narrowly missed grounding the ball in New Zealand’s in-goal and Black Ferns captain Fiao’o Fa’amausili got her hand to it as the second player in. It took some video replays but ultimately the five points were awarded, a hard turn of fortune for the hardworking Wallaroos.
4. Set piece struggles
The set piece battle was always going to be a crucial one and the Wallaroos were beaten at pivotal points in the match. A Wallaroos scrum just short of halfway was conceded early on and errors like that gave their opponents the advantage. With usual lineout thrower sent to the bin for the last 10 minutes of the first half, Australia was under even more pressure and lost their first throw with the veteran in the bin, deep in New Zealand’s attacking territory.
5. More Tests, better rugby
The Wallaroos hadn’t played a Test in two years before this Eden Park showdown and that was obvious against the Black Ferns, who play at least one series a year and all play in a national provincial competition. The Wallaroos fought hard but some of the more technical parts of the game just weren’t as polished as their New Zealand counterparts. Plenty of their veterans showed some potential, with Mollie Gray turning in another strong outing, while they were desperate in defence. The more the play, the better they'll get - it's as simple as that.