Red card cruels Wallaroos as red-hot England take WXV1 opener

Wallaroos skipper Michaela Leonard takes on the English defence during Australia's WXV1 opener in Wellington. Picture: Getty
Wallaroos skipper Michaela Leonard takes on the English defence during Australia's WXV1 opener in Wellington. Picture: Getty

The Wallaroos have lost their WXV1 opener in Wellington, falling to world number one England 42-7.

The Red Roses ran in six tries to one but Australia will take plenty from a 14-7 second half showing, the majority of which they defended with 14 players.

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Wallaroos lock Annabelle Codey was sent from the field after receiving her second yellow card in the 58th minute for high contact on England halfback Ella Wyrwas. It followed an earlier high shot on Red Roses skipper Marlie Packer during the first half.

England were always in command after opening up a 33-0 nil and controlled proceedings with their dominant lineout and rolling maul, though the Wallaroos did enjoy scrum parity and a strong bench showing from try-scorer Ashley Marsters and fellow finishers Atasi Lafai and Desiree Miller.

Post-game, Wallaroos skipper Michaela Leonard expressed her pride and frustrations from the result.

"Congratulations to England, they’re number one in the world for a reason and they showed that tonight. Also proud of our girls, we know England’s really strong in their set piece and when I look at that scrum for the whole 80, we put it to them and competed against them," Leonard told Sky Sports.

Obviously coming out of this week, it’s our execution that let us down. When we got it right it worked well for us, so it’s just working on our execution for next week.

"Every game we come into, we want to come away with a win and we believe that we can do that. I think we let ourselves down tonight, no disrespect to England but I think the errors came from mistakes we made.

"We’re coming out next week looking for a win."

England skipper Packer paid tribute to her side's "courageous" win and noted the Wallaroos' second half effort with just 14 on the park.

"The Aussies came out and gave us a really good game, (they) asked us loads of questions but we talk about courage and being courageous and that’s what we did today as an England team."

A 5th minute try to Hannah Botterman opened the Red Roses’ account with the England loosehead prop steamrolling over from a slick lineout move.

Australia looked to hit back through wingers Ivania Wong and Maya Stewart, both finding space on the English edges before pushed passes cruelled any chance of building sustained A Zone pressure.

The Wallaroos' woes doubled in the 17th minute after coughing up possession to Alex Matthews, who linked with hot-stepping winger Jess Breach down the left touchline.

Breach’s weaving run left two defenders in her wake and a clear path for diving halfback Ella Wyrwas to bank England’s second try.

A head knock to Maya Stewart sustained in the same sequence saw debutant Desiree Miller enter the fray, though there was little respite for the Wallaroos as the English continued to surge.

The pressure eventually boiled over 10 minutes later with Codey seeing yellow for a high shot on Red Roses skipper Marlie Packer, whose decision to plug the corner from the ensuing penalty paid dividends with a captain's rolling maul try.

Emily Chancellor looked to drag Australia back into the contest with multiple ruck steals but the lineout continued to plague her side with another overthrow seeing England march upfield again.

Back-to-back penalties saw the Roses turn again to the rolling maul with Breach scoring her country's fourth just two phases later.

England's potent lineout again delivered with Packer crossing for her second try after halftime before the injection of Ashley Marsters briefly stemmed the bleeding.

The Rebel barged over from a Layne Morgan quick tap to open Australia's account after 53 minutes but the joy was short-lived with England regathering the ensuing kickoff and crossing through Meg Jones mere moments later.

A TMO check afterwards saw Codey given her marching orders just prior to the hour mark with Dallinger also forced from the field through a wrist complaint.

Her replacement Cecilia Smith helped to straighten the attack with returning lock Atasi Lafai and Marsters making plenty of metres late in the piece.

Halfback Sarah Dougherty also earned her debut, replacing Morgan in the 73rd minute and adding her bullet-like passing to the fray, which saw Australia mount 20 phases after fulltime before pulling up short.

Wallaroos team to play England at Sky Stadium, Wellington on Friday 20 October, 5:00pm AEDT


1.  Brianna Hoy - uncapped
2.  Tania Naden – 6 caps
3.  Eva Karpani – 17 caps
4.  Michaela Leonard (c) – 18 caps
5.  Annabelle Codey – 4 caps
6.  Siokapesi Palu – 3 caps
7.  Emily Chancellor – 19 caps
8.  Kaitlan Leaney – 11 caps
9.  Layne Morgan – 15 caps
10.  Carys Dallinger – 3 caps
11.  Ivania Wong – 8 caps
12.  Arabella McKenzie – 18 caps
13.  Georgina Friedrichs – 15 caps
14.  Maya Stewart – 5 caps
15.  Faitala Moleka – 2 caps


16.  Adiana Talakai – 12 caps
17.  Bree-Anna Cheatham – 5 caps
18.  Emily Robinson – 21 caps
19.  Atasi Lafai – 6 caps
20.  Ashley Marsters – 23 caps
21.  Sarah Dougherty - uncapped
22.  Cecilia Smith – 8 caps
23.  Desiree Miller - uncapped


Wallaroos v England, 5:00pm (AEDT), Friday 20 October, Sky Stadium, Wellington
Wallaroos v France, 5:00pm (AEDT), Saturday 28 October, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Wallaroos v Wales, 5:00pm (AEDT), Friday 3 November, Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland


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