Wallaroos vs Ireland: Five things we learned

Womens Rugby World Cup
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Wallaroos have won back-to-back Tests and guaranteed their 2021 Rugby World Cup spot.

What are we talking about after their 36-24 win over Ireland?

1. Australia’s gains on show in Ireland

Tuesday night’s fifth-place semi-final was a rare chance for the Wallaroos to show their improvement after a rollercoaster tournament in Ireland. A week after playing Ireland in their opener, they were given an opportunity for revenge and took it. Their fourth game in nine days was their most impressive yet and provided some sound proof for the belief that the more Tests the team plays, the better they will become.

2. Irish find blood in mauling

The Wallaroos couldn't get on top in the lineout. Photo: ARU MediaThe Wallaroos battled hard in defence but their hard work was ultimately futile against Ireland’s most powerful weapon. Ireland used the competition’s most efficient lineout to their advantage and Australia struggled to combat that maul when they faced it. Three set pieces in a row shifted the early momentum for the host nation and earned them a try, but unfortunately for the hosts their chances to make the most of that were few and far between.

3. Skills stick for Wallaroos

Relentless pressure was the hallmark of Australia’s game against Ireland and it came back to basic skills. Two tries scored off scrums showed their training in practice and their multi-phase scores only came to fruition with clean skill execution. It was far from perfect but the accuracy was far improved from some of their earlier matches in the tournament and that shone through. The work of their forwards, led by tighthead Hilisha Samoa, set the tone and that flowed through the entire team. It was simple but effective and the approach paid dividends.

4. Barker lays platform

Australia’s forwards and outside backs have attracted a lot of the praise during the tournament but the work of scrumhalf Katrina Barker couldn’t be ignored on Tuesday night. The nine was crucial to keeping the Wallaroos going in attack, recycling from rucks quickly and giving Australia the chance to put the heat on Ireland. 

5. Fifth place in sight

Australia has now qualified for the 2021 World Cup, with the Wallaroos needing to finish seventh or better to guarantee that spot in the next tournament. Their next assignment is the winner of Canada vs Wales for a chance to take the best spot outside of a semi-final finish.