TEAM NEWS: Australia A name Oceania Champs side to play Samoa

Womens International
by Emma Greenwood

Australia A have named their team for a final Oceania Championship clash against Samoa in Fiji on Tuesday.

Following their 50-0 loss to the Black Ferns development side last Friday, Australia A have tinkered with the side for the final match of the tournament, in Lautoka.

Coach Moana Virtue has made changes to its front row, replacing loosehead Toa Filimoehala with Bree-Anna Cheatham, who started on the bench against the Black Ferns Development XV.

Hooker Averyl Mitchell, who started for the Wallaroos in Tests against Japan and New Zealand earlier this year, has been rested, with Tasmin Sheppard to wear the no.2 jersey and  Janita Kareta to come off the bench.

Brumbies lock Michaela Leonard will again captain the side.

Having already sealed their place in Saturday's Oceania Championship final - where they will play for a spot in next year's World Cup - Samoa have made wholesale changes for their Australia A clash to ensure all tourists gain game time.

Manusina Samoa beat Papua New Guinea 65-12 in their opening clash last week before losing 26-7 to Fiji on Friday, although Tonga's withdrawal from the tournament due to a measles scare has ensured they will make next week's final, with Australia and New Zealand ineligible for the decider given they have already sealed World Cup qualification.

Their match against Australia will be the first between the two countries in a decade, with their 87-0 loss to the Wallaroos in 2009 their worst ever defeat.

Australia A will be looking to bounce back from a heavy loss of their own after going down 50-0 to the Black Ferns Development XV on Friday.

While disappointing, the result is not expected to scar the national team, with Wallaroos forward Emily Chancellor - who spoke to the media on Monday following the announcement of next August's Australia-New Zealand Test double-header in Melbourne - saying little could be read into the result in terms of future Wallaroos-Black Ferns clashes.

"It was two development teams. Yes, they're the future of both (sides) but at the moment we've got very different Test teams," Chancellor said.

"I think it shows the standard that New Zealand has still, above us, in terms of their preparation from lower (levels) all the way through to Test teams.

"But it doesn't do anything for us as a Test match team, we're still looking at the same result, the same goal - to beat them - and we still have the capacity to do it, so I'm not going to read too much into that."

The Black Ferns beat the Wallaroos convincingly in their two Laurie O'Reilly Memorial Trophy matches to reinforce the gap that still exists between the two nations and the clash of the development sides in Fiji shows the same gulf remains at the next level.

But Chancellor said there were positive signs.


"I think every year that Australia puts more and more time and money into women's rugby, we're seeing the results," she said.

"To be able to play Test matches in front of big crowds, to play Super W games, where the standard's kept increasing over the last two years - so I can only imagine the same thing will happen again for 2020 - we're going up.

"It might be a slow increase but we're definitely going to start competing soon."

Australia A will take on Manusina Samoa at Lautoka, Fiji, on Tuesday, November 26, kicking off at 2pm AEDT and streamed LIVE on the Oceania Rugby Twitter site.


Australia A to play Samoa:  1 Bree-Anna Cheatham, 2 Tasmin Sheppard, 3 Christina Sekona, 4 Michaela Leonard C, 5 Sera Naiqama, 6 Kirby Sefo, 7 Fi Jones, 8 Piper Duck, 9 Georgia Cormick, 10 Arabella Mckenzie, 11 Courtney Frankl, 12 Georgina Friedrichs, 13 Kennedy Cherrington, 14 Maya Stewart, 15 Courtney Hodder. Reserves: 16 Janita Kareta, 17 Toa Filimoehala, 18 Eva Karpani, 19 Tiarah Minns, 20 Grace Kemp, 21 Remi Wilton, 22 Zahara Temara, 23 Lilyann Mason-Spice.

Samoa to play Australia A: 1. Cynthia Apineru, 2. Aigaevalu Samau Timani, 3. Jennifer Simati, 4. Mary Auvele, 5. Easter Savelio, 6. Alyce Solaese, 7. Masuisuimatamaalii Pauaraisa, 8. Elieta Taito, 9. Alafou Fatu, 10. Bella Milo C, 11. Luisa Gago, 12. Billy-Jean Ale, 13. Josephine Falesita, 14. Apaau Mailau,  15. Sieni Mose Samau, 16. Hope Sa’u, 17. Molly Maligi, 18. Margaret Vaiouga, 19. Marilyn Live, 20. Mary-Lee Sa’u, 21. Jhana Magele, 22. Linda Fiafia,  23. Anna-Helen Vaotu’ua.