Shaky Wallaroos secures place in the quarter-finals of the Women’s Rugby World Cup, as Wales threatened with a huge shock in a thrilling match in New Zealand
Australia flirted with disaster, but fought their way to the quarter-finals of the Women’s Rugby World Cup and clung to a 13-7 win over Wales.
Two penalties from Lori Cramer made the difference on Saturday at New Zealand’s Whangarei, where the Wallaroos impressed en route to a tight win.
Australia was dominant in possession but disjointed on offense, scoring just once in 12 visits to the Welsh 22.
Australia’s Iliseva Batibasaga scores a try during the Women’s Rugby World Cup Group Stage match between Australia and Wales at the Northland Events Center in Whangarei, NZ
Australia ran into the wind and held a 10-7 lead at halftime, with Iliseva Batibasaga’s effort in the fifth minute being negated by the effort of Sioned Harries.
The stage was set for the Wallaroos to run across the top of Wales, but time and again Australia handed possession to coach Jay Tregonning on an irritating afternoon.
Kaitlan Leaney’s yellow card in the 70th minute gave Wales a look at a massive upset and their first-ever win over Australia, but the Wallaroos successfully starved them the ball to triumph.
Sharni Williams crashes into defense in exciting game where Australia had most of the ball but struggled to convert points into points
While the win was ugly, Grace Hamilton was immense with 16 carries, a stat she now leads through the tournament.
With their first consecutive wins under Tregonning, the Wallaroos are staying alive in the tournament.
Captain Shannon Parry said she was ‘really proud of the girls who took the win today’.
“It’s huge to be in the quarter-finals, this group has come a long way since the beginning of the year and that was the first box we wanted to tick,” she told reporters.
Australia must now play a wait and see game to get to know their next opponents, with a wide range of possibilities still alive.
On another stormy day at the Northland Events Centre, Wales enjoyed the tailwind early but started with flat feet, allowing Batibasaga to steal an early lead.
The halfback looked at the saucer of a breakdown but found no takers, turned 360 degrees and found a path to the try line, running unattended under the posts.
Cramer converted for a 7-0 lead.
Australia’s Grace Hamilton (C) is tackled by Alex Callender (L), Captain Hannah Jones (under C, blacked out) and Carys Williams-Morris (R) from Wales
Australia was dominant and had 80 percent possession until they let the Welsh back into the game.
Four stages after a lineout – the source of four Wales attempts at this tournament – Harries dove for the line and found him.
Bienne Terita’s run down the middle threatened to give the Wallaroos a second chance, but they had to be content with a 10-7 lead after Cramer’s late penalty in the first half.
Australian players celebrate with Iliseva Batibasaga after her attempt at the Women’s Rugby World Cup Group Stage match
Arabella Mackenzie crossed the line shortly after the break, but was refused by the stoic Welsh defence.
What followed was 25 minutes of awkward rugby with the Wallaroos flirting with disaster.
Tregonning was furious in the penalty area, throwing his pen in frustration as the opportunities passed.
In the 70th minute, Leaney gave Wales a way to victory when she shot Alex Callender on the shoulder, but the Wallaroos ended the score through Cramer’s boot in the 78th.
The win means Australia finish second in their group, losing to the hosts but also beating Scotland last weekend.