The Rooster Chicken Fijiana went down fighting in their first international test match against a new look Buildcorp Wallaroos by 36-19 at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane yesterday.
The Fijiana were hamstrung early when fullback Roela Radiniyavuni attempted an intercept which was ruled an intentional knockdown gifting the Wallaroos an early penalty try just four minutes into the match.
The one player down Fijiana retaliated immediately a minute later, with a quickly won penalty after the restart had the Wallaroos backtrack, and multiple pick and drives saw prop Vika Matarugu crash under the sticks with winger Vitalina Naikore leveling the scores.
The Wallaroos strung together numerous phases but were met with ferocious defence in reply.
The home side kept their composure and after a conceited effort, had open winger Mahalia Murphy crash through to score out wide with fullback Lori Cramer missing the conversions with 14 minutes on the clock.
The Wallaroos stole an easy third try when Fijiana halfback Reijieli Uluinayau failed to control the pill at the back of their own scrum inside their 22 metres with quick ball out had inside centre Pauline Piliae busting tackles to reach for a try under the crossbar with Cramer adding the conversion on 22 minutes.
On the 25th minute Matarugu would keep the Fijiana in the fight, notching her second try with a similar pick and drive move, in multiple phases having her over the try line with Naikore adding the conversion.
The home side increased their lead nine minutes from the breather when veteran prop Liz Patu finished off a great sortie keeping close ball and weathering the Fijiana defence to score, with Cramer adding the conversion.
The Fijiana came close to notching another try with a scrum just outside the Wallaroos five metre line.
Ignoring multiple calls from the referee to play the ball, the ball was deemed turned over, sending the teams to the sheds with the Wallaroos holding a 26-14.
The Fijiana scored first in the second spell.
When a quick tap and barge from Matarugu was lost and regained and recycled out wide to have debut outside centre Talei Wilson slide through on the edge to score with the conversion asway with 53 minutes up on the clock.
The Wallaroos impact players of the bench was felt by the tiring Fijiana defence.
A setpiece maul from the lineout five metres out from the try line was unstoppable with substitute prop Ashley Marsters scoring with Cramer missing the conversion.
The Wallaroos furthered their lead on 69 minutes, after smelling blood in the water from a tiring white wall, with outside centre Georgina Friedrichs picking out some big defenders out wide to slip through from the halfway and offload to captain and openside flanker Shannon Parry who dived over for a try, with Cramer missing another conversion.
The Drua fought to the final whistle but were unable to console themselves with a consolation try with their final attack play thwarted and turned over in the ruck.
The Wallaroos kick the ball in to touch to claim the win 36-19.
Wallaroos: Liz Patu, Adiana Talakai, Bridie O'Gorman, Michaela Leonard, Kaitlan Leaney, Emily Chancellor, Shannon Parry, Grace Hamilton, Iliseva Batibasaga, Arabella McKenzie, Ivania Wong, Pauline Piliae, Georgina Friedrichs, Mahalia Murphy, Lori Cramer, Ashley Marsters, Madison Schuck, Eva Karpani, Sera Naiqama, Piper Duck, Layne Morgan, Trilleen Pomare, Jemima McCalman
Fijiana: Joma Rubuti, Karalaini Naisewa, Vika Matarugu, Jade Coates, Merevesi Ofakimalino, Ema Adivitaloga, Emma Masi, Sereima Leweniqila, Rejieli Uluinayau, Luisa Yaranamua, Vitalina Naikore, Rachel Laqeretabua, Talei Wilson, Kolora Lomani, Roela Radiniyavuni, Keleni Marawa, Mereoni Namositava, Ebony Satala, Akosita Ravato, Teresia Tinanivalu, Rusila Tamoi, Merewalesi Rokouono, Timaima Ravisa
By Noa Biudole