Qualification for the 2021 World Cup was the most valuable prize for the Wallaroos in a 36-24 win over Ireland.
Australia will play off against Canada on Saturday night for fifth spot in this year’s tournament, but with the top seven nations guaranteed a spot for 2021, they’ll have an extra sense of security.
In the bigger picture, coach Paul Verrell said, it also meant the Wallaroos would be on the journey as women’s XVs continues to grow.
“The best thing for us is we’ve qualified for the next World Cup, that was our main target today, (it) puts us into the 5th-6th playoff,” he said.
“Leading to the next four years to that next World Cup, women’s XVs is going to grow and this is the first step in that direction.”Captain Sharni Williams said the match, their second against the hosts, was a special one to be part of.
“Coming into the World Cup and having that pool match, losing by two points was a bit gut wrenching, but we knew we could perform a lot better than that,” she said.
“We’ve regrouped and we’ve come out and given that Aussie mongrel and really gone forward from there.
“The atmosphere was unreal, especially that last seven minutes or so where Ireland really had the ball and had us down in the defending zone.
“It’s awesome for Ireland to have that crowd and they really took hold of that and it gave the momentum (for them to) score a couple of late tries.”
Tighthead prop Hilisha Samoa, who had a baby less than a year ago, was the standout for the Wallaroos on Tuesday, scoring a try and setting the tone for a dominant forward pack.“Hilisha was tremendous all day,” Verrell said.
“To come back from having a baby 12 months ago and getting up and playing a World Cup and playing like that was tremendous.
“She just carried the forward pack forward, a really good result.”
Samoa’s children have been counting down the days until her return home, but she said they would have been watching on as she took on Ireland.
“My kids are the most proudest people,” she said.
“They’re little gems, I missed them so much.
“They’re super proud, they say ‘how many more sleeps left?’”
The Wallaroos take on Canada in the fifth-place final on Saturday night, kicking off at 11:30pm AEST LIVE on FOX SPORTS.