Kiwi Ferns level Nines series
The Kiwi Ferns squared their three-match series with the Jillaroos 9-0 on the back of a powerful two-try second half.
Jillaroos back-rower Kezie Apps was looking forward to an easy end to the women's three-game series, but will have to make do with a series decider at the Downer Auckland Nines.
"We were hoping to get that one up so the next one will be a bit easier for us. [On Saturday] we started off very well and we held our own," Apps told NRL.com.
"But after that I don't know what's gone wrong. Since they lost the first game we knew they were going to come out firing.
"We just need to throw the ball around I guess, and get a bit deeper . They seemed to have rushed up in defence that last game and cut down our time.
"Also we need to improve on our defence, it was a lot better in the first game. Hopefully we can improve in our next game."
The match was played between the two 20-metre lines in the opening exchanges, with the best chance coming when an Allana Ferguson kick bounced off the Kiwi defence and came back with Apps. But a Charmaine McMenamin line break shortly after put the Ferns on the attack and forced the Jillaroos to work it off their own 10.
Some furious Ferns defence hemmed them in until a long run outside the defence from winger Karina Brown then a beautiful line break from fullback Sam Bremner the following set caused some headaches for the Ferns. The Kiwis were their own worst enemy at times with Tasha Davie throwing a wild pass into touch and Teuila Fotu-Moala tossing an intercept.
Jillaroos livewire Casey Karklis had some threatening darts when she was injected later in the half but the score remained nil-all at the break.
A sweeping left-side shift from the kick off saw the Ferns start their set from almost halfway and a few plays later another wonderful left-side movement ended when Fotu-Moala draw the last defender and tossed a short ball for Mary-Jane Ale to bag the first try.
A long-range break from Langi Veainu looked certain to lead to a try until a brilliant chase and covering tackle from Bremner but with the Jillaroos scattered the Ferns spread it back infield and Davie was on the end of a regulation overlap to score under the posts.
A brilliant run from Karklis got the Aussies in attacking range for the first time in the half with three minutes remaining but when Maddie Studdon's pass was intercepted the Jillaroos' last chance went begging.
Kiwi Ferns captain Sarina Fiso believes pride in the New Zealand jumper will get them through in the women's series decider.
"Wearing the black jersey hey, that's probably the best thing for us. The pride that goes with it and the history," she said.
"It's an honour to wear it and it's something we'll take into the game.
"We lacked composure in the [first] game [of the series] and our shift was a lot better in the second game too. We knew what we needed to do to [amend our first game loss] and the crowd kept us in it out there as well."
Kiwi Ferns 9 (Ale, Davie tries) def. Jillaroos 0.