Wallaroos primed for Wales showdown to decide knockouts fate

Thu, Oct 20, 2022, 3:12 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Wallaroos fullback Lori Cramer recounts how the First Nations Yugambeh anthem came to fruition.

The Wallaroos are well aware of the importance of their final pool game against Wales in Whangarei.

Last week's win over Scotland has all but secured their place in the quarter-finals, however, their path in the knockout stages is heavily reliant on the result of Saturday's clash.

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Victory will secure a top-two finish in Pool A and see them face either the lowest-ranked group winner (Canada/England) or a fellow second-place finisher (France/USA/Italy), as well as earning an extra day off and a trip back to Auckland.

A loss and they need results to go their way, although it would likely require outsiders such as either Scotland defeating New Zealand or Fiji overcoming France to end their World Cup dreams. It will also likely set up a battle with the Black Ferns, world number one England or Canada.

Therefore, there is plenty on the line for the Wallaroos, who are continuing the 'whatever it takes' mantra that became a reality in the final moments of last week's thriller.

“I think for us there’s a lot on the line this weekend," captain Shannon Parry told reporters.

"For us, we’ve prepared really well but there’s no bigger occasion to get up for at a Rugby World Cup but the squad’s in really good shape and we’re really looking forward to the contest on Saturday.”

Wallaroos coach Jay Tregonning has switched up his team in a quest to shut down an imposing Welsh pack.

Brumbies skipper Michaela Leonard comes in for Sera Naiqama to strengthen the lineout whilst player of the match Eva Karpani reverts back to the bench in favour of Bridie O'Gorman's scrum prowess.

Shutting down the rolling maul remains critical, the source of Scotland's points from the weekend.

Whilst the two tries were a concern, Tregonning hinted at illegal tactics used by the Scots to gain ascendancy, embracing the set-piece battle with a Welsh side that won five scrum penalties against the Black Ferns.

“It’s an area we focused on against the Black Ferns. I raised a few concerns with the match officials about the way Scotland’s maul was set-up and again it was hard to defend. We got confirmation during the week the facts we raised were some of the reasons they got over the top of us," he believes.

“You look at the penalty try, Eva (Karpani) slips over a little bit and they got on top of us. It’s one of those things that happens and unfortunately, it was Adi’s (Talakai) first yellow card was a result of a few team penalties.

“Whatever it takes is still there. But we’re focusing on earning the right with everything we did this week. The training we’re putting in, we’re making sure we’re not leaving any stone unturned to earn the right to go back-to-back for the first time this year and to make the quarterfinals.”

The Wallaroos are riding the momentum from the close victory after breaking a seven-game losing streak, believing they are better equipt to deal with the blustery Whangarei conditions.

“I think the way we finished the game provides an enormous amount of confidence," Tregonning added.

"Coming from behind, grinding out the win, Lori kicking a few goals under pressure – it was all outstanding and that’s great for everyone’s confidence.

"We’ve shown that we can do it and hopefully it’s not that close for my health this weekend but if it is we have confidence in the girls to be able to bring it home.

“We probably were a little underprepared for the wind to be honest last week, so it’s definitely something that’s been on the agenda from a training point of view and something we’re touching on today so.”

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