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Five things we learnt from Wallaroos-Fijiana

Fri, 06/05/2022, 10:08 am
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
The Wallaroos got their season off to the perfect start. Photo: Getty Images
The Wallaroos got their season off to the perfect start. Photo: Getty Images

The Wallaroos made a positive start to their build to the World Cup, surviving a strong showing from Fijiana to take a 36-19 victory at Suncorp Stadium.

It was the confidence-building performance needed after so long between Tests, with several debutants shining during the win.

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So what did we learn from the match?

1.Right step

Whilst there are still areas to work on, Wallaroos coach Jay Tregonning will be pleased with his first game in charge as they controlled the 80 minutes.

The experienced players in the side really stepped up, led by captain Shannon Parry, with Liz Patu, Grace Hamilton and Emily Chancellor constantly taking the ball over the advantage line and providing solid momentum.

Meanwhile, Mahalia Murphy was unstoppable on the wing, showing some great strength to dot down in the corner

Whilst there were defensive lapses that will likely annoy Tregonning, it was a positive start in a long year of Rugby for the Wallaroos

2. Playmaker power

The Wallaroos have seemingly found their 10-12 combination heading forward with Arabella McKenzie and Pauline Piliae shining.

McKenzie has control beyond her years as the 23-year-old marshalled the attack around with the confidence of any good half.

Whilst she was denied a try of her own by a great cover tackle, the awareness to scoop up the loose ball and find Piliae under the sticks was brilliant.

As for Piliae, she was rightfully player of the match as she toyed with the Fijians with every touch, cementing their claims ahead of the World Cup

3. What it means

You could see what the long wait and the occasion meant to the Wallaroos.

There were 11 debutants in the 23 but as Tregonning noted, there were several players finally getting the chance to make their first appearance in gold having had their chances denied by COVID.

This was evident during the anthems with several players in tears, relishing the opportunity to finally play after nearly 1000 days out of action.

“You could tell in the faces of all the girls how much this meant to them.We had 11 debutants in the green and gold and it’s a very special moment," Parry said after the match.

4. Wong wizardry

Ivania Wong continued her strong form from Super W, stepping up to the International level with ease.

Wong instantly went looking for the ball and set up the penalty try with a great break before producing a great run in the second half to halt any chances of a Fijiana comeback.

She was the standout of the debutants outside of Piliae, with Georgina Friedrichs also excellent in attack to set up Parry's try.

Madison Schuck was immense off the bench, producing a number of key plays whilst starting hooker Adiana Talakai set the platform with some strong defence.

5. Turning 16 into 14

The Fijians got off to a calamitous start, with play delayed after they somehow entered the field with 16 players.

In a weird sense of irony, the numerical advantage would shift almost instantly when fullback Roela Radiniyavuni was yellow carded inside three minutes as she battered down an almost certain try to Emily Chancellor, set up by an Ivania Wong break.

Even though they found a way to score, this advantage ultimately was too much to overcome when Mahalia Murphy scored in the corner, chasing the game as the Wallaroos kicked into gear.

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