Wallaroos vs Black Ferns: Five things we learned

International
by Emma Greenwood

The Black Ferns underlined their position as the world's best women's team with a  47-10 win over the Wallaroos in Perth in the opening leg of the double-header.

Here's what we're talking about after the match.

1. The Black Ferns are in a league of their own

Yes, they suffered a shock loss to France in last month's Super Series in the US but it only served to galvanise the Black Ferns, who showed why they remain the world no.1. Despite the 47-10 scoreline though, the Wallaroos have closed the gap and there is hope they can edge closer in Auckland next week.

There are certainly Wallaroos who shone but it's the depth of the Ferns that wears teams down. Every member of the New Zealand 23 is world class and their ability to build - and maintain - pressure told on the Wallaroos, who had bright spots but don't yet have the allround consistency of their rivals.

More football is what the Wallaroos desperately need - and that will come next year with more Tests - but there are strides that can be made in the next week heading into their Eden Park encounter.

 

2. The Wallaroos desperately need a lineout fix

Poor is about the only word that can be used to describe the Wallaroos' lineout after issues in all facets of the set piece. Averyl Mitchell had a great series against Japan on debut last month but struggled with her accuracy in her first Test against the Black Ferns, pinged on a couple of occasions for not throwing the ball in straight, while the constant movement of her forwards early on did not help. It was not just Mitchell though - the issues continued in the second half when Ash Marsters came on and it's something the Wallaroos need to fix quick smart if they are to be a chance next week.

While they won more lineouts than the Black Ferns (11-7), it was the ones they lost (7-1) that counted most, with the Wallaroos converting just 61 per cent of their chances. It was costly too, with the loss of chances in excellent attacking position as well as deep in their own territory, with the turnovers immediately heaping pressure on the defence.

3. Ball security must improve for Australia

The Wallaroos created plenty of opportunities for themselves but too often, they ended prematurely because of poor ball security. The Black Ferns are ferocious in contact and attack the ball at every opportunity. It's something the Wallaroos dealt with poorly, failing to treasure possession and losing it cheaply with loose carries and poor security.

After competing well at the breakdown and forcing several turnovers of their own, the Wallaroos were too often left without the ball just seconds later. It's an area they can improve on quickly, giving hope that if they are able to maintain possession better at Eden Park, they will be able to be more competitive.

The most frustrating thing for Grace Hamilton and her troops was their inability to show what they were capable of simply because they could not hang on to the ball.

 

4. Back-rowers are among the best in the world

The Wallaroos captain again led from the front, racking up plenty of stats despite Australia's inability to hang on to the ball. Grace Hamilton finished with 15 carries for 48m and a massive 14 tackles - twice as many as her outstanding Black Ferns counterpart Charmaine McMenamin. And she had a perfect partner in flanker Millie Boyle, who had seven carries for 36m and 13 tackles.

Coming off an outstanding series against Japan, the pair already showed the problems they can cause for an opposition. And while Hamilton reinforced after the match just how disappointed the Wallaroos were with their performance, there is no question she and Boyle can compete on level terms with any opponent.

5. Cramer emerges as a backline star

Winger Lori Cramer posted all the Wallaroos points with her pair of tries and is emerging as one of the stars of this Wallaroos side. After an outstanding Super W season at fullback for the Queensland women, Cramer made her Test debut from the bench in the opening Test against Japan in Newcastle before being promoted to the starting side.

The Wallaroos' set piece wobbles and the Black Ferns' pressure in defence allowed her little time to kick in general play and she will be looking to improve the angle she is able to get on her kicks. But what she brings in terms of energy and relentless attack cannot be understated and she's likely to win plenty more Test jerseys.