Source: World Rugby

Let’s play Cards

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Australia v Wales

It’s a sad fact that Wales didn’t deserve to win this tight match. Once more cards played a central role. Siokapesi Palu was shown a red, the fourth of the tournament, for jumping into Jasmine Joyce with a dangerous shoulder-to-head tackle. After half-time Sera Naiqama was dismissed for ten minutes for pulling down a driving maul.

For the umpteenth time it was 15 v 13, and yet Wales failed to exploit this advantage. Their penalty count reached eight by the break and went on mounting afterwards. The Wallaroos were far more skilful in their handling, off-loads adding dozens of metres to their attacks.

It took them a quarter-of-an-hour to make their mark. Maya Stewart finished a delightful move on the right. The Welsh had conceded a series of infringements and the defence was caught too narrow once more.

They countered with a successful drive, Carys Phillips claiming the try converted by Keira Bevan, but Bethan Lewis at once dropped the kick-off to concede possession and territory. The direct result was a Carys Dallinger penalty that nudged the Wallaroos in front again.

Half-time: Australia 8 Wales 7

Now came the error by Palu which should have sealed Australia’s fate. It didn’t. Wales’ forward rumbles tended to finish with players losing their footing; the backs couldn’t exploit the numbers advantage that was permanently on offer.

Lleucu George tried several testing cross-kicks. One demanded a review by the TMO; did Wales get the touchdown? Answer no.

But now they were getting on top. A threatening drive was brought down; Hollie Davidson ran under the posts and Naiqama was off for ten minutes.

This was surely the crucial stretch of the game, but the Welsh simply couldn’t take full control. All too often possession was conceded, and Wallaroo thrusts were not stopped efficiently enough.

A delightful chip and catch led to yet another penalty, and Eva Karpani, who had already scored a hat-trick in the series, powered through tackles to score. Given the shape of the game, it should have been her opposite number, Sisilia Tuipulotu, scoring at the other end, but no.

Lori Cramer added to Wales’ misery by scoring another try to give her side breathing space. 20-14

On 58 minutes Naiqama returned; the Australians had restored their lead without her help.

Cymru responded with another pack drive, but, as so often, it wasn’t solidly formed, and they were pinged for holding on as they went to ground.

Dallinger sent another cross-kick into the right corner. Arms reached high, but no-one could claim it cleanly. Most unusually, the ball finished deep in-goal, looking very lonely and unloved. Cramer was the first to arrive to claim a very soft try. Where was the Welsh defence this time?

More fine handling saw Ivania Wong breeze over on the left with an overlap. How was that possible? Wales were barely clinging on. Their anxiety led to more rash options and unforced errors. Sad to say, they were reverting to the heads-down performances of three years ago, when they had every reason to feel unloved and ignored.

They regained confidence as the minutes ticked by; Kelsey Jones added their third try with three minutes left on the clock. Perhaps it was inevitable that George’’s conversion hit the left post and pranged back. Success would have meant another Welsh try wouldn’t need to be converted.

The closing moments were as tense as you please, but Aussie determination stayed firm to leave Wales winless in the series; they have never yet beaten the Wallaroos.

If the same set of results pertained next year, they would find themselves condemned to relegation.

Result: Australia 25 Wales 19
Player of the Match: Kaitlan Leaney


Australia: 1 Brianna Hoy, 2 Tania Naden, 3 Eva Karpani, 4 Sera Naiqama, 5 Michaela Leonard (captain), 6 Siokapesi Palu, 7 Emily Chancellor, 8 Kaitlan Leaney, 9 Layne Morgan, 10 Carys Dallinger, 11 Ivania Wong, 12 Arabella McKenzie, 13 Georgina Friedrichs, 14 Maya Stewart, 15 Faitala Moleka

Bench: 16 Adiana Talakai, 17 Bree-Anna Cheatham, 18 Bridie O’Gorman, 19 Atasi Lafai, 20 Ashley Marsters, 21 Jasmin Huriwai, 22 Cecilia Smith, 23 Lori Cramer

Wales: 15. Jasmine Joyce, 14. Lisa Neumann, 13. Hannah Jones (captain), 12. Hannah Bluck,
11. Carys Cox, 10. Lleucu George, 9. Keira Bevan, 1. Gwenllian Pyrs, 2. Carys Phillips, 3. Sisilia Tuipulotu, 4. Abbie Fleming, 5. Georgia Evans, 6. Kate Williams, 7. Alex Callender, 8. Bethan Lewis

Bench: 16. Kelsey Jones, 17. Abbey Constable, 18. Cerys Hale, 19. Alisha Butchers, 20. Sioned Harries, 21. Meg Davies, 22. Robyn Wilkins, 23. Keryn Lake


Referee: Hollie Davidson (SRU)
ARs: Sara Cox (RFU) and Tiana Anderson (NZR)
TMO: Ian Tempest (RFU)