Jillaroos disappointed with loss
A smooth preparation may have come back to bite the Harvey Norman Jillaroos according to coach Steve Folkes in the aftermath of their 26-16 loss to the Kiwi Ferns at Hunter Stadium on Friday night.
Folkes was buoyed by his girls' week-long training camp but said it also may have added a sense of complacency amongst his squad.
Blooding four debutants in the 10-point loss, Folkes was already looking onwards to the Jillaroos' next match which is tentatively scheduled to be against Papua New Guinea at year's end.
"The girls are really disappointed with their performance. There's a few tears and it's quite emotional in the sheds which isn't necessarily a bad thing," Folkes said.
"Considering when you're playing for your country, you want to do your very best. Next time hopefully we will.
"Not taking anything away from the Kiwis, but we certainly weren't at our best which is disappointing. If you play as well as you can and you get beaten then you cop that. But [our performance] was not that," he added.
"Sometimes you train really well and everything goes smoothly but when you get to the game you take it for granted. You think it's going to run smoothly again. Sometimes you need a bit of disruption in your training so you concentrate a little bit harder."
Folkes found special praise for local Newcastle utility and Jillaroos debutant Caitlyn Moran. The 20-year-old found herself playing for almost 70 minutes with centre Corban McGregor's game ending early due to a suspected broken collarbone.
"Caitlyn was very good. It was fortunate she played on the bench. She stepped up to the mark and she was good on that edge and she defended well," Folkes said.
"The fact we had those four debutants out there is helping build for the World Cup so having given them that exposure in this professional environment will help."
Skipper Ruan Sims found positives in her teammates' pride for the Jillaroos jersey considering they hung tough with the rampant Ferns team for the entire game.
"We have the skill and I believe we are a better team than what we showed. What was really positive though was we never gave up and that's something you can't train for," Sims said.
"That's something you just have, that pride in the Australian jersey. So I'm proud of the girls for not letting it run away from them."
The Jillaroos were left to lament their 10-point loss after a majorly positive start to the game.
The Australians dominated the first 10 minutes but failed to convert their good field territory into tries – coming away from the opening exchanges with a slender two-point lead.
The Jillaroos tyres were flattened slightly when Ferns winger Atawhai Tupaea scored the game's first try in only the Kiwis' second set of the game in the 11th minute.
"We were great," Sims said of that initial 10 minute period. "We were moving and we just took the foot off the throat. But that's a learning curve.
"It's always frustrating to have the ball and not being able to turn it into points but that's football."
Folkes added: "There was a couple of decisions that went against us at critical times. There were circumstances that dictated we were going okay early but we blew it in the end."