Photo Credit: rugby.com.au

Grace Hamilton began her Wallaroo captaincy on a winning note when Australia defeated Japan 34-5 in their Test match at Newcastle Sportsground on Saturday.

The Sydney University No.8 led from the front in the six-try to one result in the first of two Tests against the Cherry Blossoms. The second Test will be played at North Sydney Oval on Friday night.

The Wallaroo skipper was named Player of the Match for her inspired efforts in attack and defence.

Hamilton’s Sydney University teammate, flanker Emily Chancellor, was also in the starting line-up and played solidly for 60 minutes before being replaced by Shannon Mato, who was making her Test debut.

Sydney University’s other Wallaroo squad member for 2019, lock Sera Naiqama, missed selection for the first Test, but is in contention for the next Test against Japan and two Tests against New Zealand – at Optus Stadium, Perth, on Saturday, 10 August, and at Eden Park, Auckland, on Saturday, 17 August – which are preliminaries to Bledisloe Cup matches between the Wallabies and All Blacks.

The Newcastle Test was played in windy conditions in front of a crowd of 3912 supporters. Australia’s debutants took the spotlight in the windy conditions, scoring three of Australia’s six tries.
The Wallaroos took an early lead when Queensland-based hooker Avery Mitchell crossed the line in the opening exchanges. Japan controlled the next stages of the first half, hammering the Australian defensive line for multiple phases.

The Wallaroos weathered the storm and hit back just before the break through and Ariana Hira-Herangi try. Samantha Treherne added the extras giving Australia a 13-0 lead at the break.  

Australia started the second half in similar fashion to the first with Trilleen Pomare crossing after two minutes and fellow Western Australian, Mhicca Carter extending the lead with another try in the 53rd minute. Debutant Eva Karpani extended the lead to 29-0 lead with a try in the 58th minute.

Japan’s Maiko Fujimoto crossed for the Blossoms’ first try of the series in the 70th minute before Samantha Treherne had the final say for Australia with a 74th minute try.

Wallaroos coach, Dwayne Nestor was very pleased with the result and the way it was achieved. “It’s fantastic to get a win to start the series off; our girls were amazing,” he said.

“We’ve said that we want to play to our strengths and they did that today. We’ll go through the video and see how we want to play next week and if we can make any changes that will help our game and we’ll pick accordingly for the match.”