Wallaroos fall in fifth place playoff

Womens Rugby World Cup
by Sam Phillips

A valiant Wallaroos outfit have fallen short of a fifth place finish, Canada proving too clean with ball in hand and too powerful at scrum time in claiming a 43-12 win.

On a night in which the Wallabies went so close to stunning the All Blacks in Dunedin, the Wallaroos did their best to emulate the efforts of their male counterparts, shooting out to an early lead through big ball carries, sturdy defensive work and clean hands.

But an early 12-7 lead was quickly mowed down by a Canadian outfit that were heavy favourites to claim fifth place, Australian ill-discipline - along with a malfunctioning scrum - proving particularly costly when they were forced to play with 13 women in the final minutes of the first term.

The Wallaroos couldn't have started any better, dominating the opening exchanges in what was an action packed first half.

It was the usual suspects responsible for the first long drive upfield, Millie Boyle, Alisha Hewett and Cheyenne Campbell each trucking the ball over the gain line and creating space for Ash Hewson to thrive.

Ash Hewson set up the Wallaroos' first five pointer of the day. Photo: ARU Media/Brendan HertelHewson, with that space, released Sharni Williams and Sarah Riordan, who put together a pair of slick passes to power into the Canadian 22.

It was some sleight of hand from Hewson that found Riordan for Australia's opener, the latter barging through three would be tacklers to force her way over the line.

The Australians controlled all the ball in the opening 10 minutes but a loose Hewett carry was stripped 20 out from the Canadian line and some slick passing, along with a lucky loose ball bounce, saw Julianne Zussman cross to level things up.

It was the carries of the tight five that put the Wallaroos back in the Canadian red zone and one of the members of that tight five was rewarded with a try, Liz Patu burrowing her way over to open up a 12-7 lead with 20 gone in the first term.

Riordan put herself in a nasty position in an attempted tackle five minutes later, leaving her unconscious and ruling her out for the remainder of the match.

Kayla Sauvao entered the fray in her place, with Canada on the attack.

They scored from their second entry into the Australian red zone, this time Amanda Thornborough taking advantage of an overlap down the right hand side.Canada were one step ahead in attack. Photo: ARU Media/Brendan HertelCanada's third entry nearly resulted in another try, Samantha Treherne stripping the ball from Karen Paquin just as she looked likely to score.

The TMO intervened, though, and Rebecca Clough was sent to the bin for a high shot, leaving the Wallaroos a woman short for the final 10 minutes of the first term.

Canada took immediate advantage, Paquin finding an unmarked Elissa Alarie to put the favourites in front for the first time today.

Paquin then got the try she was denied earlier, opening up a 24-12 half time lead.

The TMO again made his way into the frame as Brianna Miller lined up her fourth shot at goal for the afternoon, discovering a Patu stomp on a Canadian player and leaving the Australians with 13 players for the final three minutes of the first half.

The Wallaroos repelled a Canadian assault on their line for the first 10 minutes of the second term but some brilliant passing put Zussman in for her second.

That left the Australians clinging on for dear life trailing 29-12 and their cause wasn't helped when Campbell was sent to the bin for repeated infringements in the red zone with 17 minutes to play.

The scrum, which had been completely overpowered all afternoon, wasn't able to withstand the Canadian shove that followed and Kelly Russell dotted down under the posts to put the result beyond doubt.


Wallaroos 12

Tries: Riordan, Patu

Cons: Hewson


Canada 43

Tries: Zussman 2, Thorborough, Alarie 2, Paquin, Russell

Cons: Miller 4