The Wallaroos showed plenty of fight but couldn't manage to close it out as the Black Ferns secured the 23-10 victory.
It was the first time Australia has led their Trans-Tasman rivals at half-time but fell away after the break as the hosts rewarded a faithful Tauranga crowd who made the trip in wet and wild conditions.
So what did we learn?
Whilst the result didn’t go the Wallaroos way, there will be plenty to like for Jay Tregonning after that performance.
The first half showed they can match it with the best as they frustrated the Kiwis and forced constant errors. Their physicality was a major point of difference as the forward pack stepped up to the occasion.
The set-piece remains a concern, particularly the lineout which lost all shape in the second half.
However, for a team still building into their campaign, it was a positive step forward.
2. Oh Captain my captain
The Wallaroos needed an inspirational performance from Shannon Parry and she delivered.
The captain was everywhere in the first half, forcing turnover after turnover to keep the visitors parked inside the hosts’ 22.
She was joined by back row superstars Emily Chancellor and Grace Hamilton, who were dominant with the carries and helped gained dominance at ruck time to start the match.
This was backed up by a couple of strong plays by Piper Duck from the bench.
3. The turning point
The momentum in this game lived and died by the scrum battle.
The Wallaroos enjoyed early ascendency, allowing them to control the possession and build an early lead. When Adiana Talakai went off, their dominance slowly waned as the Kiwis flipped the switch before the half.
This allowed the hosts to power their way through with Kaipo Olsen-Baker especially dominant at the back of the scrum, by far the best on ground for the Black Ferns
4. Perfect wet weather start
In hurricane-like conditions, the Wallaroos gave a perfect lesson on how to play wet weather footy in the first half.
It was a true 10-player gameplan as they kept it tight and powered it through the forwards.
Constant carries over the advantage line eventually delivered the result desired when Liz Patu powered over the line.
It’s something Jay Tregonning would’ve been proud of after their disappointing defeat to Japan.
5. Fatigue factor
Fitness remains a key area of improvement if the Wallaroos want to match it with the best ahead of the World Cup.
After the strong start, they found themselves guilty of falling off tackles, allowing the Kiwis to run riot.
"We stuck to our game plan for about 60 minutes but then fatigue set in," Wallaroos skipper Shannon Parry admitted after the game
"The Kiwis, they make you pay, and they did that to us today, but I'm really proud of the girls' effort to hang in there until the end.”
They’ll get the perfect chance to bounce back against the USA, who were thumped by Canada.