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Five things we learned from Wallaroos-Fijiana

Written by Lachlan Gre, courtesy of rugby.com.au Source article
Five things we learned from Wallaroos-Fijiana

The Wallaroos looked a completely different beast from their Pacific Four selves in a 64-5 thrashing of Fijiana.

Australia finished with 10 tries to Fiji’s one at Allianz Stadium with Desiree Miller (four), Eva Karpani, Pesi Palu, Cecilia Smith, Trilleen Pomare, Tiarna Molloy and Bridie O’Gorman crossing the chalk.

Catch up on rugby.com.au’s full Wallaroos v Fijiana match report here.

Miller’s record-equaling haul will undoubtedly steal the headlines but Jo Yapp’s side were better in every facet on Saturday evening, setting the scene for a mouthwatering Laurie O’Reilly clash against New Zealand next week.

Here’s what we learned:

1. Jo Yapp era now well underway

There were glimpses during the Wallaroos’ winless start to the season against New Zealand, USA and Canada but Saturday’s performance proved Jo Yapp’s appointment was the right one.

From creating a a high-intensity training complete with internal trial matches to renewed game-week focus on retaining possession at the breakdown, Yapp’s fingerprints were all over the Wallaroos’ thrashing of Fiji.

Attacking rucks were vastly improved (97% efficiency), running lines were more direct, and decision-making at penalties was smarter with set-piece execution preferred to errant quick taps.

Australia finished with 74% possession and 71% territory and while it’d take a brave punter to say they’ll beat New Zealand next weekend, that performance showed the Wallaroos will be vastly improved from the side skewered 67-19 earlier this year.

2. Miller’s magic touch

Fijian fans must be well and truly sick of seeing Desiree Miller on the left wing.

Fresh from her hat-trick heroics for NSW against the Drua in the Super W final, Miller went one better at Allianz Stadium with a record-equalling four meat pies.

Miller had a hat-trick before oranges and etched her name in the history books with number four shortly after to match Ruan Sims’ four-try haul back in 2006.

The Waratah benefitted from sharp hands inside but her finishing skills are undeniable, as opposite number Merewairita Neivosa will attest to.

3. Duck stands, veterans deliver

Piper Duck didn’t cross the chalk on Saturday evening but damn she deserved to.

The number eight was tireless in defence and brutal on the carry, banking three line breaks and feeding Cecilia Smith for a lovely try during the second half.

Duck’s efforts would’ve been noticed even without the blinding pink headgear – and she wasn’t the only one laying a platform.

The aforementioned Smith was one of Australia’s best, laying on a string of inside balls to kep the Fijiana defence guessing, veteran Trilleen Pomare kept the pressure on during her second-half stint, and fullback Lori Cramer gets a shout-out for wearing more than her fair share of monster tackles.

4. Dream debuts for Brumbies trio, former Sevens flyer

You couldn’t have written a better script for the four latest Wallaroos.

Starting winger Biola Dawa had some excellent touches and would’ve enjoyed more were it not for her four-try wing partner.

Meanwhile 20-year-old Allana Sikimeti’s introduction up front was met with rapturous applause matched only by the cheers for 30-year-old ACT teammate Lydia Kavoa.

Special mention should go to Queenslander Nat Wright, who completed an incredible comeback from a fractured cheek sustained during a Super W trial in March to make her debut at halfback.

5. Fijiana’s weapons shut down

Much was made of Atelaite Buna’s inclusion in the #13 jersey but the “Bullet” was no match for unsung hero Georgie Friedrichs.

Friedrichs gave Buna no room to move in her limited attacking opportunities as the vaunted Fijiana attack crumbled.

Likewise, rampaging backrower Karalaini Naisewa couldn’t replicate her Super W form with Australia’s loose forward trio of Duck, Nathan and Lafai taking her out of the picture.

Fiji may have fancied their chances off the back of an unbeaten Oceania Championship campaign but they’ve got some serious soul-searching to do with discipline issues (two yellow card) again cruelling a chance to knock off the Aussies.

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