Wallaroos vs Japan: Five things we learned

Womens Rugby World Cup
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Wallaroos notched a win over Japan in Dublin.

What are we talking about after their final pool clash?

1. Wallaroos finally taste Test victory

It had been 1109 days since the Wallaroos tasted international victory, and this one will be very sweet. Australia has played just seven Tests since their last win, over Wales in the 2014 World Cup, but hadn’t been able to sing the anthem. They were put under immense presure by Japan but clung on and this one will mean plenty.

2. Forward grunt leads the way

The Wallaroos show their grunt against Japan, relying on the size and athleticism of their forwards for an advantage. The tireless work of their loose forwards especially continued to set the tone for Australia. No. 8 Grace Hamilton kept the Wallaroos rolling in the opening half, eventually earning some reward for effort. Hamilton was Australia’s best. Hamilton finished with 106 metres and completing a perfect tackle strike rate, with 10 tackles all making their impact felt.

3. Japanese heart shines through

Japan put up a good fight against the Wallaroos. Photo: World RugbyThey were the underdogs but Japan never let the Wallaroos take full control of this World Cup pool match, throwing their bodies on the line against a bigger Aussie side. Midway through the second half Japan had amassed an incredible 153 tackles, showing their desperation to stop the Wallaroos’ momentum. At 19-0 down, Japan could have let things unravel, but their tenacity kept them in the game.

4. Williams releases pressure valve

The Wallaroos were under the pump in the second half as Japan closed in. Enter Sharni Williams. The stand-in skipper showed her strength and smarts to break free of a Japan tackle and hand off a perfectly timed offload to winger Nareta Marsters. It was their first score of the second half, but it was all Australia needed to stem the bleeding and put themselves on the winning path.

5. Fifth place still in play

They’re out of the semi-finals but the Wallaroos are still in the mix for fifth spot after that win over Japan, likely to play one of Ireland, France or Wales in their placing semi. Australia’s best finish came in 2010, when they finished third, in their only semi-finals appearance. The Wallaroos have come away with a fifth and three seventh-placings in the other tournaments. A finish of seventh or better will also guarantee Australia another chance at World Cup glory, qualifying them for the 2021 tournament.