Some huge tackles and one of the team tries of the Auckland Nines weekend highlighted a solid 11-4 win by the Jillaroos in the first game in their three-match series against the Kiwi Ferns.
The Kiwis pressed the Jillaroos’ line early and it took some resolute green and gold defence to deny them twice, particularly when a great run from Ferns skipper Sarina Fiso almost put winger Atawhai Tupaea over in the corner but she was pulled up by a great try-saving effort.
A couple of errors from the Jillaroos and crunching defence from the Ferns frustrated Australia’s efforts to get out of their own end but eventually a kick-ahead was picked up off-balance by Kody House to scatter the black and white defensive line. House arguably missed an opportunity to set up a supporting runner to score, but she backed up the play after to provide the final pass for fullback Sam Hammond to open the scoring in one of the best team tries of the weekend.
A fumbled intercept attempt from Langi Veainu handed the Jillaroos the first real opportunity of the second half and it didn’t take long for Hammond to produce a great offload in front of the posts for Allana Ferguson to score a bonus zone try and stretch the lead to 11-0.
The Ferns hit back shortly after when a line break from Kristina Sue got them in range and a long pass allowed Maitua Feterika to crash over. There wasn’t much time to mount a comeback however and the Jillaroos showed great discipline to close out the 11-4 win.
Kiwi Ferns playmaker Georgia Hale said her team was guilty of losing focus on the big stage at a packed Eden Park.
“We did have our chances, but it was a bit of an overwhelming experience and we took a little while to settle into the game,” Hale told NRL.com.
“Lucky for us there are two more games to go, we have set the platform now and hopefully can only go onwards and upwards.
“For those girls who are new to the squad they just have to take it in, look forward to the environment we are playing in but when it comes time for the game just switch on and focus.”
Australian Jillaroos 11 (Hammond, Ferguson tries)
defeated New Zealand Kiwi Ferns 4 (Feterika try).