Sydney University Football Club had six players in the starting line-up for the opening match of the 2022 Women’s Rugby World Cup against New Zealand, which the hosts won 41-17 at a packed Eden Park in Auckland.
The Wallaroos starting line-up included halfback Iliseva Batibasaga, No.8 Grace Hamilton, flanker Emily Chancellor, lock Sera Naiqama, prop Bridie O’Gorman and hooker Adiana Talakai, all SUFC members, while Lori Cramer came off the bench. SUFC’s Piper Duck is also in the 32-strong squad.
The Wallaroos had the Black Ferns on their heels for much of the first half. They led 17-nil after 27 minutes with Bienne Terita scoring a double and fellow winger Ivania Wong also crossing the stripe and went to the break with a 17-12 advantage.
But the hosts hit back in the second half with a five-try performance to keep their unbeaten run against Australian intact in front of a world record crowd for a women’s rugby union match. Three of those tries came when the Wallaroos were down to 13 players, with Wong and captain Shannon Parry spending time on the sidelines with yellow cards.
The Wallaroos will face Scotland in Whangārei next Saturday in their second pool match. They will play Wales at the same venue in their final pool encounter on October 22.
In the earlier matches in Saturday’s triple-header at Eden Park, England beat Fiji 84-19 and France triumphed 40-5 over South Africa.