New Zealand faced a sterner test from Australia in the second test but still ran out 29-3 winners as both teams continued their preparations for Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017.
Australia provided a much sterner test to New Zealand in the second meeting between the trans-Tasman rivals in five days, but couldn’t stop the Black Ferns from running out 29-3 winners at QBE Stadium to retain the Laurie O’Reilly trophy.
New Zealand had enjoyed a record 67-3 victory over Australia at Eden Park last Saturday in an historic double header with the men’s final Bledisloe Cup match, but found the Wallaroos much improved in both defence and their ball retention on Wednesday.
That was always to be expected as the Eden Park encounter was Australia’s first test since Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014 and they fielded 12 debutants that day, players who will have learned plenty from the experience as they countdown towards next year’s showpiece in Ireland.
“We put out a significantly improved performance against New Zealand today and our structures were better right across the park,” admitted coach Paul Verrell. “I am proud of the way we improved across the two tests and it is a credit to the character of this group.
“This series was an important one for our development. We had 13 test debutants across the two test matches and we are only going to grow stronger and build our depth as we continue our preparations for the Women’s Rugby World Cup next year.”
This was a sentiment echoed by New Zealand captain Fiao’o Fa’amausili, whose side will now head to Europe to face tests with world champions England, WRWC 2017 hosts Ireland and Canada in November.
DIGGING DEEP IN RESPONSE
“These girls are awesome, but full credit to the Australians, they came out today and really gave it to us,” she said. “Losing a test at Eden Park by that scoreline and then coming out today and really digging deep, full credit to them.”
Losing experienced centre Cobie-Jane Morgan to the sin-bin in the second minute wasn’t the start the Wallaroos had hoped for, and they were unable to prevent New Zealand Sevens captain Sarah Goss from going over in the corner for the opening try while a player down.
Australia hit back within minutes though as their impressive fly-half and captain Ash Hewson kicked a penalty, but a second try by Toko Natua increased the Black Ferns lead as Morgan returned from the sin-bin to make it 12-3 to the home side.
The floodgates didn’t open, though, as Australia worked their way into the match and put the Black Ferns’ defence under pressure, twice turning down kicks at goal in search of a first try of the series.
The score remained that way for 20 minutes as Morgan, Hewson and Mollie Gray made key tackles to repel wave after wave of attack from the Black Ferns, but their line was breached for a third time five minutes before the break when Honey Hireme crossed to make it 17-3.
Australia started the second half brightly and put the Black Ferns under pressure in their own 22, forced them into penalties which ultimately saw Fa’amausili sin-binned for repeated infringements.
The Wallaroos were unable to capitalise on their advantage and it was their defence which would crack just past the hour mark to allow Olympic silver medallist Portia Woodman (main picture) to score in the corner, before fittingly living Selica Winiata – the four-try hero from the opening test – to have the final say with New Zealand’s fifth try of the match.
The result will have no impact on the World Rugby Women’s Rankings when they update on Monday at 12:00 GMT, with New Zealand remaining as the number one team and Australia in sixth.
Article sourced from World Rugby.
Highlights video sourced from NZ Women’s Rugby Facebook page.