Wallaroos fall short of world champion Black Ferns

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman in Japan

The Wallaroos have made plenty of strides in the past two years but they couldn't leapfrog the Black Ferns in a 31-11 loss at ANZ Stadium.

Australia came into the match as rank outsiders but they punched well above their weight in the opening stages, with an early scrum penalty and solid composure under intense defensive pressure.

Eventually the world champions found a gap in their system and it was Kendra Cocksedge who finished off a smart break by Renee Wickliffe to open the scoring.

Mahalia Murphy’s Sevens background shone through in attack for the Wallaroos, with the fullback dangerous with any sniff of space but twice she was felled short of the line.

Her first break still gave the Aussies points after a penalty on the next ruck gave them a chance to punish the Kiwis.

New Zealand’s set piece prowess showed through in the 29th minute with captain Fiaoo Faamausili going over from a straight-forward lineout play.

Australia’s task was compounded when flanker Grace Hamilton was sent to the bin for collapsing a maul in the 33rd minute.

There wasn't much space either way in the Wallaroos Test. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyThey looked like making it to the half unscathed despite their one-player deficit but the lineout hurt them once again.

New Zealand tighthead Aldora Itunu stretched out over the line to score just on half-time to take some steam out of the Wallaroos.

The hosts came out firing in the second half and Robinson kept the scoreboard ticking over when they had the opportunity, keeping their more-fancied opponents within reach.

Murphy pulled off another spectacular break but was pulled down on the Black Ferns’ 22 and a turn over snuffed out Australia’s immediate scoring chances.

New Zealand turned that into their own scoring opportunity with a scrum annihilation leading to Faamausili’s second.

Nine minutes later, the Kiwi captain all but sealed the result with her hat-trick off another set play, showing the biggest gap between the two teams.

Wallaroos blindside flanker Emily Chancellor stepped up as one of nine debutants, setting up the Wallaroos’ only try of the match and putting in a monster defensive shift.

Alisha Hewett finished off Chancellor’s efforts with a score in the 73rd minute but it was too little, too late.

The Wallaroos will have another crack at the Black Ferns in Auckland next weekend ahead of the second Bledisloe Test.

RESULT

Australia 11

Tries: Hewett

Pens: Robinson 2

Yellow Card: Hamilton (33’)

New Zealand 31

Tries: Faamausili 3, Cocksedge, Itunu

Cons: Cocksedge 3