Australia scored a massive win over the Cook Islands in their opening round while their opponents tonight France were comprehensively beaten by New Zealand. A win for Australia in tonight’s game at the LNER Stadium in York would guarantee their progress into the semi-finals and set up a mouth-watering game against the Kiwi´s on Wednesday to see who would top the group.
Australia are ranked World number one in the women´s game while the French are fifth, the bookies giving France a sixty-eight point start on the handicap coupon as they predicted a massacre, despite the Aussies giving three debuts.
The paying public, and those watching on TV, were hoping that the French would be able to give the Jillaroos a game, but expectations were low.
Just over two minutes after the kick off the Jillaroos served notice that this was going to be one-way traffic when Shenae Ciesiolka went over in the left corner off a flowing passing move. Lauren Brown converted from the touchline for a 6-0 lead.
On six a breakaway try from Chapman saw her dive in for the second French try of the evening, Brown again adding the extras for 12-0. A flowing Australian move down the right, the ball passing through multiple pairs of hands, saw Jessica Sergis cross in the corner. Brown was again on target, kicking the difficult goals for 18-0.
It was all one-way traffic as Chapman got her second on eleven minutes, scoring by the left upright. Brown kicked a fourth conversion in twelve minutes, the Jillaroos scoring at two points a minute. Tarryn Aiken got in on the act on fourteen as she collected a chip over the top on the goal line to go behind the posts and score. Brown was now five from five and it was 30-0 after sixteen minutes.
Australia were carving through the French defence at will, Sergis getting her second as she supported well to score under the sticks. Brown added the conversionas the record books were dusted off.
The forty was up on twenty-one, full back Emma Tonegato chiming into the line, dropping the shoulder and running the angle to score. Brown added a seventh goal for 42-0, it was still two points a minute. On twenty-six the skipper Tallisha Harden got in n the act as she crossed under the sticks Brown adding another goal as she eased towards the record for points in a game for Australia.
The fifty was brought up on thirty-four with Evania Pelite one of several Jillaroos who could have scored, dropping the shoulder and going in. Wheeler took over the kicking duties but couldn´t convert, Australia 52-0 ahead.
It was a first half hat-trick for Sergis on thirty-seven as she again supported Julia Robinson to take the ball on the thirty and sprint in under the sticks. Wheeler added the conversion for 58-0.
Just a minute after the restart the Australia onslaught continued, Jess Sergis picking up a spilled ball from a chip over the top and going in under the sticks. Aiken was now kicking for Australia, and she added the two points with ease.
France dropped the ball as they worked it out from their defence and as the Jillaroos moved the ball to the right Sergis passed to Robinson to go in at the corner. Aiken had a touchline conversion and couldn´t hit the target.
The Australian scoring suffered a bit of a drought up to the fifty-fourth minute when Olivia Kernick shrugged off a tackle twenty-five out from the line to go in under the sticks. Brown was back kicking and added a ninth goal of the game.
After some decent French defence Chapman completed her hat-trick on sixty—two as expansive passing finally opened a hole in the defensive line to go in from ten metres out. Brown kicked a tenth goal of the night to equal the points scoring record in a game and bring up the eighty.
France spilled the ball in their own twenty on sixty-five and the Jillaroos moved the ball to the right for Robinson to complete a brace. Brown was just wide of the uprights with the conversion attempt, spoiling her impeccable record with the boot.
After being forced to drop out under their own sticks on seventy-two, the French defence managed to hold Australia up over the line but on the fourth tackle the ball was moved right for Robinson to complete her hat-trick, Sergis again the provider with the last pass. Brown was again off target but at 88-0 it equalled Australia´s biggest ever win against Canada in 2000, and equalled France´s biggest ever loss, against New Zealand in 2013.
The records did tumble when Evania Pelite concluded the try scoring with the seventeenth try of the game in the seventy-ninth minute. Brown was wide with the conversion, the final score 92-0 on a night of record equalling and record breaking.
Australia have put the rest of the competition on notice that it will take something special to beat them and lift the trophy. They were clinical but it could be argued that they left plenty of points on the park, France defending far better in the second half and minimising the damage. On a world stage, the two sides are playing in different leagues of skill and fitness, there is no comparison.
Australia: Tonegato (T), Robinson (3T), Sergis (4T), Chapman (3T), Ciesiolka (T), Fuimaono, Aiken (T, G), Harden (T), Brown (10G), Cherrington, Clydsdale, Bent, Joseph. Subs: Mato, Wheeler (G), Kernick (T), Pelite (2T).
France: Samarra M, Canal, Fourcroy, Biville, Guillerot, Varela, Ciria, Mansard, Ramos, Bernard, Akpa, Monsarrat, Samarra D. Subs: Michel, Pacull, Borak, Kuresa.
Score Progression: 4-0, 6-0, 10-0, 12-0, 16-0, 18-0, 22-0, 24-0, 28-0, 30-0, 34-0, 36-0, 40-0, 42-0, 46-0, 48-0, 52-0, 56-0, 58-0 : HT : 62-0, 64-0, 68-0, 72-0, 74-0, 78-0, 80-0, 84-0, 88-0, 92-0: FT .
Lead Exchanges: Australia.
Referee: Rochelle Tamarua.
Attendance: 3,006 at the LNER Community Stadium, York.