Wallaroos manage to hold on for a WXV1 win despite a red card and a close call against Wales.
The Wallaroos were able to triumph despite Siokapesi Palu receiving a red card, allowing coach Jay Tregonning to end on a positive note. They battled their way to a 25-19 victory over Wales in WXV1.
In the 41st minute, Palu was removed from the game for making a high shot on Wales fullback Jasmine Joyce. This caused Australia to work hard to win the game at Auckland’s Mount Smart Stadium. It was also Tregonning’s final game as coach of the national team after leading them for 16 Tests.
During the game, the Wallaroos had only 13 players due to lock Sera Naiqama being sent off shortly after Palu’s ejection. Despite this disadvantage, they managed to secure a bonus point victory and fend off a late surge from the Welsh team.
Wales have never beaten Australia in a Test but were pounding at the Wallaroos’ line right up to the final whistle. The win means Australia finished their inaugural WXV1 campaign with a 2-1 record after a loss to England and victory over France.
“I think we may have lacked discipline, but credit to the girls for their tenacious Aussie spirit,” commented Wallaroos captain Michaela Leonard. “Despite having only 13 players, we persevered and it paid off in the end.”
Australia had a strong start, controlling the field and earning an initial point when winger Maya Stewart took advantage of open space to score in the 15th minute.
Carys Phillips, the hooker for Wales, responded with a try after making a determined run just before the thirty-minute mark.
Although Australia’s No. 10 player, Carys Dallinger, was unable to convert Stewart’s attempt, she managed to score a penalty right before halftime, giving the Wallaroos an 8-7 advantage going into the break.
The situation drastically shifted following the intermission when Palu was expelled, altering the course of the match. Wales quickly gained the advantage with a penalty try, given when Naiqama was penalized for pulling down a maul.
Despite being reduced to only 13 players, Australia did not collapse. Instead, they came together and persevered through the challenges they faced. In the 52nd minute, Tighthead prop Eva Karpani took control of the situation by forcefully breaking through three Wales defenders and scoring a try.
Dallinger could not successfully complete the conversion, but she redeemed herself for her previous missed attempt with a powerful run through the center of the Welsh defense.
Australia utilized Wales’ defensive line to advance their position, and their five-eighth strategically kicked the ball towards the corner. Substitute player Lori Cramer took advantage of a loose ball and scored a try. In the final 10 minutes, Ivania Wong secured Australia’s fourth try with a skillful finish.
Despite Wales’ efforts, Australia held on for the win as hooker Kelsey Jones scored a late try to keep them in the game.