Australian rugby’s Eden Park misery continued as the brave Wallaroos were overrun 41-17 by New Zealand in their Rugby World Cup opener in front of a record crowd.
The Wallaroos, who have never beaten the defending champion Black Ferns, led 17-0 in the first half and were level at 17-17 in the second when they copped two disastrous yellow cards at the same time.
That was always going to push Australia to breaking point, and the Kiwis scored 14 unanswered points in the 10 minutes that the Wallaroos played with only 13 players.
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Wallaroos rocked by double yellows
The Wallaroos didn’t flinch as they walked towards a stirring haka, and nor did they flinch after kick-off as they dominated the early exchanges.
New winger Bienne Terita continued a remarkable start to her Test career, fending off fullback Renee Holmes to dive over in the corner for the opening try in the 14th minute.
Australia had caught the Kiwis napping with a quick tap before firing the ball wide.
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Wallaroos silence huge Eden Park crowd
The massive crowd was then silenced when the other Aussie winger, Ivania Wong, pounced on a New Zealand mistake and streaked away for the second try in the 16th minute.
The Black Ferns appeared rattled and continued to make errors throughout the first half as Wallaroos coach Jay Tregonning’s pressure prediction came true.
Terita then made it four tries in her first two Tests against New Zealand when the 19-year-old sevens convert powered over again for 17-0 following some slick passing.
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The Kiwis finally got on the board after half an hour when lock Joanah Ngan-Woo burrowed over from close range.
That injected some confidence into the home camp and legendary winger Portia Woodman – scorer of seven tries in their last match against Japan – continued that form with a fine finish in the left corner.
New Zealand were still far from their best, but Woodman continued her tit-for-tat battle with Terita by overpowering the youngster for her second as the hosts struck first in the second half to level the scores at 17-17.
The Wallaroos were then reduced to 13 players in one fell swoop when Wong was yellow-carded for a cynical play when the Black Ferns were hot on attack.
The TMO then intervened after spotting a dangerous tackle from Wallaroos captain Shannon Parry on Liana Mikaele-Tu’u in the build-up.
The mismatch made a Black Ferns try nearly inevitable and so it was when reserve prop Awhina Tangen‑Wainohu proved too hot to handle close to the line, leaving Australia trailing for the first time of the night.
Woodman then completed her hat-trick with an easy finish after another strong run from standout centre Stacey Fluhler, before the two carded Wallaroos returned.
Cult hero Ruby Tui got in on the action with two late tries on a terrific night for wingers as New Zealand’s lead blew out.
Earlier on Saturday, France and England comfortably beat South Africa and Fiji respectively.
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