The Wallaroos have taken an encouraging step on the road to this year’s Women’s Rugby World Cup with a 36-19 defeat of Fijiana at Suncorp Stadium.
Playing in their first Test since 2019 — ending a 956-day drought — the Australians outscored the visitors six tries to three in an impressive display on Friday night ahead of a potentially tougher clash on Tuesday against Japan at Bond University on the Gold Coast.
Waratahs centre Pauline Piliae produced a player-of-the-match performance with a committed effort in attack and defence, with Queensland winger Ivania Wong also among Australia’s best in her starting debut at Test level.
Fijiana, whose side was stacked with players from the Super W-winning Fijiana Drua team, produced a gallant display, but ultimately came up short against the superior Jay Tregonning-coached Australian outfit.
“There are a lot of technical things that we can improve on … but the effort, the work for each other defensively, that’s what’s going to make us a great rugby team,” Tregonning said.
Six tries were scored in an action-packed first half, with the Wallaroos crossing for four of them to lead 26-14 at the break.
It took just two minutes for the Australians to open the scoring and it came via a penalty try, after the referee ruled that a deliberate knock down from Fijiana fullback Roela Radiniyavuni stopped a certain Wallaroos’ five-pointer.
Radiniyavuni’s offence also resulted in her being sin-binned for 10 minutes.
But that didn’t deter the visitors, with hooker Vika Matarugu crossing in the fourth-minute for the first of her two-first half.
However, apart from Matarugu’s brace, it was the Wallaroos who dominated the opening stanza, with Piliae, winger Mahalia Murphy and prop Liz Patu each scoring tries before half-time.
Fijiana scored the opening try of the second half through centre Talei Wilson to reduce Australia’s lead to seven points.
However, the Wallaroos didn’t panic, with replacement Ashley Marsters and captain Shannon Parry scoring in the 61st and 69th minutes respectively to seal Australia’s win.