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Five things we learnt from Wallaroos-Japan

Tue, 10/05/2022, 9:06 am
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
The Wallaroos faced off against Japan from Bond University in the Gold Coast.

The Wallaroos have received a major wake-up call, shocked by Japan 12-10 at Bond University.

With the game in the balance, the hosts failed to close it out to give the Sakura Fifteen a famous victory after a gutsy defensive performance.

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So what did we learn from the game?

1.Test by name

The Wallaroos got a reality check on what to expect at the World Cup with a brutal display of Rugby from the Sakura Fifteen.

Their line-speed and perfect work over the ball prevented the hosts from building any momentum, with Grace Hamilton all but conceding they got dragged out of their gameplan and started to find themselves drifting wide.

This was evident in the second half when Arabella McKenzie’s under pressure, between the legs, pass spurted out and allowed the Japanese to open the scoring through Ayasa Otsuka, relieving the pressure.

Whilst Japan played a near-perfect game, Shannon Parry’s assessment of the Wallaroos being ‘their own worse enemy’ was spot on as they failed to fire.

2.Friedrichs on fire

Georgina Friedrichs continues to take her game to another level, once again proving unstoppable for the Wallaroos.

Friedrichs’ evasiveness was on full display as she burst through the Japanese line on multiple occasions, somehow unable to get over the line.

Along with this, she remained rock solid in defence and made a number of key reads to shut down the Sakura Fifteen.

3.Closing it out

The Wallaroos had a chance to win it at the end, however, the ever-reliable boot of Lori Cramer couldn't manage to deliver.

Cramer was dangerous whenever she touched the ball, stepping into a second playmaker role with Pauline Piliae seemingly struggling with an ankle complaint.

She had a chance to be a hero with her first kickable chance of the night, missing two from the sidelines, however, failed to convert what should be a near-automatic chance at this level.

Shannon Parry was right after the game in saying the kick wasn't the deciding factor in the result even if there were questions surrounding Japan defenders running off the line to charge it down, but it's a moment they will look back on and wonder what could have been.

4. Figuring it out

Set piece will still be a key work ahead of the PacFour despite some promising signs in the second half.

They were caught out by the Japanese holding off from engaging at maul-time, forcing the turnover inside three minutes. This was followed by three wayward throws by Ashley Marsters, who was one of their best with ball in hand in the first half.

However, this all turned around in the second half as the rolling maul become their biggest weapon. They ensured at least one Japanese defender was forced to engage, allowing them to use their superior strength to charge over the line twice.

Whilst the scrum earned a crucial penalty five minutes out from the siren but they can’t afford to start in a similar fashion when they face the Black Ferns next month.

5.All heart

Before the Test series, Jay Tregonning was eager to see his team show some fight and determination and nothing typified this more than Kaitlan Leaney’s effort in the 30th minute.

In the best chance of the first half for both sides, Mahalia Murphy looked set to score after breaking four defenders, with the fast ball down the sidelines coming undone with a Komachi Imakugi intercept.

However, the towering Leaney kept stride with the pacey winger to force the grubber and eventually scooped up the ball on her own 5 metre line, drawing the penalty for the high tackle.

In a tough defeat like that, these are key moments Tregonning and the side can build up heading into the future.

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