Gallant Wallaroos fall to Black Ferns

Womens International
by Sam Phillips

A fine first half performance has not been enough for the Wallaroos to sneak past the world champion Black Ferns, with the Aussies going down 45-17 at Eden Park.

The ascension of this Wallaroos side should not be underestimated after they went toe-to-toe with the Kiwis for 40 minutes but just like their male counterparts this time last week they ran out of gas.

Just over 12 months ago these two sides were a complete mismatch but it is a serious credit to coach Dwayne Nestor and his troops to see the Australians take it to the Black Ferns.

The world champion Kiwis are without question the best women's side in the world and showed as much in the second term.

The Australian pack was found somewhat wanting upfront and the Kiwis kept picking at that weakness until they kicked the floodgates open early in the second half.The Wallaroos gave the Black Ferns plenty of trouble in the first half. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyThe first half, however, had a consistent theme to it.

Both sides scored when they got their hands on the ball but the way they went about doing so couldn't have been in further contrast.

The Black Ferns were led by a tight five that outmuscled the Australian pack and they were rewarded with rare tries.

Aldora Itunu, Phillipa Love and Eloise Blackwell all crossed to set up a 19-10 half-time lead.

Pick and drives and short phase play off outstanding halfback Kendra Cocksedge were the primary route but the Wallaroos had an attack which did some serious damage of its own.

Slick passing from Trileen Pomare was the catalyst for the two first-half tries - one scored by the flyhalf herself - but the Australians would have been lost without two outstanding performances from within their pack.

Liz Patu pumped her legs through contact like a woman possessed and was duly rewarded with a try after the half-time siren had sounded but not to be outdone, Grace Hamilton played herself to the point of exhaustion.

She was leading the defensive charge and the attacking go forward she created allowed centre Atasi Lafai to flourish with clear running room.Grace Hamilton was borderline unstoppable for the Wallaroos. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyIt was Hamilton who saved five points in the minutes after half-time as the Black Ferns turned up the heat but the ensuing lineout gave clean ball to Black Ferns cenrtre Theresa Fitzpatrick and she punched through tackles from Pomare and Georgia O'Neill to extend the lead to 26-10.

The match took a nasty turn for the Australians in the next 10 minutes.

Emily Robinson sin binned for repeated team infringements before Cocksedge wrapped around the back of Fitzpatrick to add to her points tally for the night.

More ill-discipline piggy-backed the Kiwis up field once more and by this point the Australian left edge was found wanting.

Renee Wickliffe and Selica Winiata added their names to the score sheet to put the result beyond doubt.

To their credit the Australians responded, with Hana Ngaha barging over to score her side's first of the second half.

But that would be the final scoring act of the match as New Zealand's class prevailed once more.

RESULT

Black Ferns 45

Tries: Itunu, Love, Blackwell, Fitzpatrick, Cocksedge, Wickliffe, Winiata

Cons: Cocksedge 5

Wallaroos 17

Tries: Pomare, Patu, Ngaha

Cons: Hake

Yellow Cards: Robinson (50')