Jillaroos salvage pride with one-point win
The Jillaroos have earned their first win of the weekend as a late try edged them ahead of the Kiwi Ferns 8-7 in the final minute of the third match of their series.
The Australians bounced back strongly after losing game two of the series earlier on Sunday, managing to take the win despite a series of brutal hits in defence from the Ferns.
The Aussies finished off a dominant opening set when Karina Brown pinned Atawhai Tupaea in-goal off a Jenny-Sue Hoepper chip to force a drop-out, but Annette Brander was taken into touch by some strong Ferns defence off the ensuing set.
The New Zealanders then went on the attack when a deft pass from Kahurangi Peters sent Nora Maaka on a long run but the Jillaroos were able to scramble in defence. A fumble from Teura Fotu-Moala handed the Aussies a set in good territory.
Hoepper again looked for Brown with a chip but Brown couldn't quite pick it up on the bounce, letting the Ferns off the hook.
New Zealand's Hilda Peters looked to be away off the next set down the right touch line but yet another brilliant covering tackle from Brown bundled her into touch.
It was then the Ferns' turn to make an impact in defence. A crunching tackle from Maitua Feterika and Krystal Murray left Kezie Apps in some distress, and Deanna Turner then launched a huge hit on a runaway Sam Hammond that left the latter down and requiring attention.
The Ferns had one last set before the break but weren't able to get out of their own end, leaving the score locked at 0-0 at half-time.
The Ferns got the scoring started straight after the resumption though, with a half break from Maaka down the left edge finding speedster Janna Vaughan in support, with Vaughan able to streak away under the posts for a seven-pointer.
A beautiful inside short ball from Ali Brigginshaw put Brown into space but the Ferns were able to track her down, although with Vaughan spilling the last-tackle bomb the Jillaroos got another chance.
When Atawhai Tupaea couldn't handle a Brigginshaw grubber the Jillaroos got yet another set and this time they made it count as Steph Hancock barged over from close range to reduce the gap to 7-4.
The Aussies started to dominate field position and with the Ferns struggling to get out of their own end Brittany Breayley made them pay with a dummy-and-go at the line as the Jillaroos hit the lead, 8-7 with less than a minute left.
The Ferns threw it around on the last, desperate for a series clean sweep, but the Jillaroos shut the play down to earn their first win of the weekend.
"We played a lot better in that game than the game earlier in the afternoon," Jillaroos coach Steve Folkes said after the win.
"We were pretty keen to make amends for what we thought was a pretty ordinary performance in today's first game.
"We knew what the Kiwis were like, in the last Test in Wollongong they got us a minute and half before the end, and they did that in the game yesterday as well.
"We went out and did our best, we wanted to play a bit more open footy.
"This makes us look forward to the [upcoming] Test that's for sure."