Sydney University women’s rugby union flanker Emily Chancellor made her Australian debut when the Wallaroos took on the New Zealand Black Ferns at ANZ Stadium, Sydney, on Saturday.
Chancellor and Sydney University team-mate, number eight Grace Hamilton, were in the starting XV in the Test that was a curtain-raiser to the Bledisloe Cup match between the Wallabies and the All Blacks.
Unfortunately for Chancellor and Hamilton, who was earning her 10th cap, the Black Ferns were too strong, running out 31-11 winners in the five tries-to-one result.
The win extended the Black Ferns’ winning streak to 16 over their trans-Tasman foes, with Australia yet to savour victory in 14 years of matches between the sides.
Led by 53-Test skipper Fiao’o Faamausili, who scored three tries off the back of rolling mauls, the visitors were too strong in the forwards, with numerous multi-phase forays.
Wallaroos captain Liz Patu wasn’t fazed by the loss, saying the Wallaroos had played nine players on debut with the 2021 World Cup in mind.
“I’m really happy with the way things are going forward,” she said. “I’m happy that these efforts aren’t going unnoticed. The Black Ferns played an awesome game but we did an awesome job to counteract that.”
Australia improved in the second half and despite the contest being out of reach, the Wallaroos competed until the final siren and were rewarded with a late try to Alisha Hewett.
The Wallaroos squad was selected after being part of satellite training sessions across the country during July. They were linked with their various state high performances coaches, as they continued training for the 2018 internationals, combined with club rugby commitments.
“I was impressed with the work rate of the squad. They continued their training programs and put it into action at club rugby level,” Wallaroos head coach, Dwayne Nestor said of the lead-up to the two-Test series. “The squad was a great balance of youth and experience and one capable of playing some very good rugby in August.
“Having talked to every member of the squad, there was just an overwhelming sense of excitement to continue the hard work heading into that first Test in Sydney. Outside of their actions on the field, this squad has a real commitment to wanting to influence the next generation of players to pick up a rugby ball and play our game.
Chancellor was a big part of the program and earned her Test debut as a result.
The Second Test between the Black Ferns and the Wallaroos will be played at Eden Park, Auckland, on 25 August.