New Zealand claims victory with second half fightback win over Jillaroos
NEW Zealand's womens rugby league team got one back over its Trans-Tasman rival as a try in the 78th minute sunk Australia in a thrilling finish at WIN Stadium yesterday.
Little more than a year after the Jillaroos stole the coveted World Cup off the Ferns, the cousins from across the ditch did just enough to win the Test rematch 12-8 in front of a healthy Wollongong crowd.
It was a come-from-behind victory for the Ferns and they had to fight back from an eight-point deficit at half time.
Australia struck early when fullback Sam Hammond crossed for a try just nine minutes into the game.
The Jillaroos extended their lead when centre Jenny-Sue Hoepper was awarded a penalty try just before half time, after her New Zealand opposite brought Karina Brown down in goal while contesting the ball.
But that was as far as Australia's scoring would go.
It took less than three minutes into the second half for Hilda Peters to burst through a hole on New Zealand's right edge and opened the Ferns' account.
The game entered a war of attrition as both sides battled for ground position and Australia desperately defended their goal line on a number of occasions.
It wasn't until the 70th minute that the Ferns spread the ball from left to right and winger Atawhai Tupaca was on the end of some quick hands, diving over in the right corner virtually untouched to level the scoreboard at 8-8.
The Jillaroos found themselves within field goal range on the next set but opted to go for the big points and ended up losing the ball on their attacking 20m line.
New Zealand charged their way down the field with the following set and found itself deep inside Australia's defensive territory.
Second rower Teulia Fotu-Moala powered her way to the line and barged through the Jillaroos defence to score the game-winning try.
With 40 seconds on the clock, Helensburgh product Maddie Studdon attempted a short kick-off but the ball fell short of the 10m limit and New Zealand ran down the clock to win 12-8.
This article originally appeared in the Illawarra Mercury on 9/11/2014