Wallaroos fall painfully short in thrilling opener

Womens Rugby World Cup
by Sam Phillips

The Wallaroos have fallen painfully short of an inspirational win in their World Cup opener, Ireland scraping home 19-17 in a thriller at UCD Bowl.

It was crystal clear from the outset that this Wallaroos side was completely different to the one that lost the three lead up Tests in New Zealand.

The defensive line speed from the outset was an indication of their intent, as locks Chloe Butler and Millie Boyle, along with skipper Shannon Parry and No. 8 Grace Hamilton flew out of the line for hit after hit.

The new look halves combination - Katrina Barker and Trilleen Pomare - were an instant success.Trilleen Pomare made an immediate impact at flyhalf. Photo: ARU Media/Brendan HertelThe ball from Barker was quick, clean and allowed Pomare to bring Sharni Williams and Kayla Sauvao into play.

That pair were crucial to the Wallaroos' exhilarating attacking endeavour, as the forwards crashed over the gain line and gave them plenty of space and time to break the Irish line - which they did with ease.

The set piece was almost unrecognisable from the showing in New Zealand, with the scrum holding its own on Australian ball and even pinching a pair of tighthead wins in the first term.

Despite all of that, early territory took its toll and after repelling repeated pick and drives, the Australian line was broken by agile halfback Larissa Muldoon, who scooted around the base of a breakdown to score the first points.

The Wallaroos showed plenty of flair in Dublin. Photo: Getty ImagesThat was at the 20 minute mark and from that point forward, the Wallaroos gained ascendency.

That ascendency turned into points eight minutes later, as a beautiful cutout from Samantha Treherne hit Mahalia Murphy on the chest, the Australian Sevens flyer pushing off her left foot to split the Irish line and score with her first touch of the afternoon.

More Australian ball followed but they were unable to break through, taking a 7-5 deficit into the sheds.

That deficit only lasted 15 minutes, though, as a rolling maul followed by repeated pick and drives over the gain line gave Shannon Parry the chance wriggle her way over to silence the UCD Bowl crowd.

Treherne missed the simplest of conversions from Parry's try and that would prove to be costly.Ireland were too strong for the Wallaroos late in the piece. Photo: Getty ImagesThe Australians were winning the battle of physicality and that meant clean ball on tap but they allowed Ireland straight back into the game by turning the ball over from the ensuing restart.

The home side bruised their way into the Australian 22 and Ciara Griffin emulated Parry's try with a wriggling effort of her own, opening up a 14-10 lead.

Griffin's try was followed by another to Sophie Spence, with the Irish rinsing and repeating the same formula - pick and drives through the middle of the Australian defence.

With eight minutes to play, Parry, who along with Hamilton was Australia's best, pinched a pilfer and five phases later, Hilisha Samoa barged over to set up a grandstand finish, 19-17 with six to play.

But the malfunctioning lineout cost the Wallaroos a chance to again enter the red zone in the final minutes and Ireland held firm, scraping home in front of their relieved fans.


Ireland 19

Tries: Muldoon, Griffin, Spence

Cons: Stapleton 2


Wallaroos 17

Tries: Murphy, Parry, Samoa

Cons: Hewson