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The New Zealand Kiwi Ferns admit they were caught off guard by the tactics of the Australian Jillaroos in the opening game of their three-match series at the Downer NRL Auckland Nines.

After winning the inaugural series 2-1 last year, the Ferns struggled to find their way in an eventual 11-4 loss to the world champions at Eden Park on Saturday.

According to forward Kahurangi Peters much of that could be put down to Australia slowing down the ruck, which for most of the match meant New Zealand couldn't get their lethal backline involved in the contest.

"They were getting up to three in a tackle and really focussing on that area, and to be fair we struggled to adapt," Peters told 

"We were busting ourselves trying to get out of our end and to get to a good kick, but Australia did it really well and kicked deep and made sure they got numbers in their tackles."

Despite leaking two tries the Kiwi Ferns looked well-organised in defence and did manage to propel a number of promising Jillaroos raids.

When Australia did eventually break through it came off the back of some brilliant team skill, with fullback Sam Bremner finishing off one of the best tries seen on Day One.

"There are some little things we can take from that game which we need to remember in our next one, things like making sure we complete the tackle the whole way through and knowing that they aren't' tackled until it's called," Peters said.

"But we give credit to the Jillaroos for the way they were able to keep the ball alive and make something out of nothing.

"I guess that is what is great about Nines, it's not over until you get the ball back, but we have to make sure we do our job and make it easier on ourselves.

"We had them down in their half quite a bit, but I guess they sort of put the cream on top when they scored a couple of tries off last tackles. We just need to make sure we eliminate the offload and make those first-up tackles."

The Jillaroos and Kiwi Ferns resume their trans-Tasman battle with two games on Day Two, kicking off at 4.05pm and 5.45pm NZT.


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