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Dublin: 6 °C Saturday 19 January, 2019

Ireland's WRWC rivals Australia take a beating as England defeat NZ to top rankings

The Wallaroos have work to do before facing Ireland after conceding 144 points in three tough warm-up Tests.

RUNNERS-UP LAST time out at the Women’s Rugby World Cup, Canada looked in mean form this weekend as they trounced Ireland’s first pool opponents Australia 45 – 5.

With nine changes from the 44 – 17 loss to New Zealand, it was an inexperienced Wallaroos side named by coach Paul Verell and 10 players started with less than four caps to their name.

Canada went out intent on playing to a high tempo and there was early misery on Australia as captain Cheyenne Campbell was sin-binned and powerful number eight Victoria Latu injured before Canada combined a muscular forward effort with some fluid counter-attacking to lead 14 – 0 after 15 minutes through tries from Jane Kirkby and Julianne Zussman.

With the brilliant Magali Harvey kicking five conversions and ensuring the Wallaroos were always stretched, Francois Ratier’s side ran in further tries from Frederique Rajotte, Emily Belchos,Brianna Miller, Kelly Russell and also a second for fullback Zussman.

Despite some worrying malfunctions at the scrum, Verell maintained a positive outlook ahead of the World Cup, where his side will meet the hosts first up on 9 August in UCD before tackling France and Japan.

“We were disappointed with the result, but the tour has provided us a chance for the squad to get a realistic view of the work ahead of them as we head to the World Cup in Ireland.

“We’ve uncovered some talented players across the three matches. The focus now is to ensure we continue to build in the six-week black we have to prepare for the World Cup.”

The seven-try drubbing was the third and final defeat in Australia’s Women’s Super Series – an invitational Test series they entered as the sixth and lowest-ranked nation – after they also fell 55 – 10 to England.

New Zealand Women v England Women - Rugby Super Series - Rotorua International Stadium England celebrates as Marlie Packe crosses. Source: David Davies

The Red Roses are on the opposite end of the form book as the World Cup approaches after a clean sweep in New Zealand, culminating in a 21 – 29 win over the Black Ferns in Rotorua – the prelude to the Lions’ win over the Maori – that sent them top of the world rankings.

Source: All Blacks/YouTube

After Emily Scarratt and Kendra Cocksedge traded tries, an electric Portia Woodman intercept gave the Ferns a 14 – 7 lead. From there on in though, the English pack took control of the contest and showed their credentials as Grand Slam and World Cup holders with a relentless maul and powerful finishers leaving them 14 – 29 ahead before a late consolation try from Victoria Subritsky-Nafatali.

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Sean Farrell

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