It was the closest match between the Trans-Tasman rivals since the Black Ferns beat Australia 22-16 in Canberra in 2008.
Black Ferns Director of Rugby Wayne Smith anticipated a much tougher challenge than the 52-5 victory of a week ago, praising Australia’s aggression and passion.
“We definitely got the test. I noticed coming out of the changing rooms they were hugely focused. They were physical and well organised and put us under a lot of pressure,” Smith acclaimed.
Wallaroos loose forwards Shannon Parry and Emily Chancellor were outstanding while 19 year-old Commonwealth Games gold medalist Bienne Terita scored two tries from the wing on debut.
The Black Ferns trailed early, but for the most part were likely winners. Australia scored on full time. The visitors struggled to consistently implement their ‘up tempo’ game, hassled by the hosts at the breakdown.
“We were hanging off. Our inside cleaner wasn't really anticipating the play or cues very well. We were drifting around when we needed to get in and actually clean,” Smith said.
“Plus, our ball carriers didn't stay up long enough. We would often stay up on the first tackler and then dive to the ground.
“Their next defender would then come over the top to jackal.
“It's not usual for us. We've been good at that but weren't good today.”
Black Ferns captain and first five-eighths Ruahei Demant felt the heat.
“It was a hard day, a good test. Our execution let us down,” she said.
“We’re a young side and haven’t played a lot of test matches under pressure. We're developing skills to help us consistently execute our skill-set under pressure.”
Black Ferns lock Jonah Ngan-Woo scored a try and was a commanding presence.
“Jo is massive for us, a lineout leader, she is wise beyond her years and gives players around her a lot of confidence,” Demant said.
Smith added, “she’s athletic and “understands the game.”
Black Ferns second five-eighths Chelsea Semple took a heavy head knock and was yellow carded. Semple and Waikato teammate Kennedy Simon, with a calf complaint, are the most serious injury concerns.
The Farah Palmer Cup concludes in a fortnight with semifinals and finals before a camp occurs ahead of the 32-women World Cup squad announcement on September 13.
The Black Ferns play Australia in their first Pool game, but before that, host Japan at Eden Park in a recently announced Test on September 24. It will be the first meeting between the two countries. In May, Japan beat Australia 12-10.