Biting allegation mars big Jillaroos win
Australia remain undefeated in the women's Rugby League World Cup, downing England 38-0 at Southern Cross Group Stadium on Sunday, although their reputation received a dent with centre Isabelle Kelly accused of biting.
It was another runaway win by Australia after beating Cook Islands 58-4 on Thursday in the opening pool round. The Jillaroos ran in another eight tries after their 11 on Thursday, with rookie left-side winger Meg ward bagging a double against England.
But the cloud of unsporting behaviour hung over the match.
The Jillaroos were riding high at 24-0 leading into the halftime when England forward Chantelle Crowl pointed to her forearm. She could not identify the player by name when she spoke with referee Todd Smith, but replays showed Crowl pulling her arm out of the two-woman tackle on Kelly.
Smith then asked the ground manager to come onto the field and photograph Crowl's arm, before placing the incident on report.
A three-man match review committee, headed by former NRL referee Steve Clark, will meet Monday to decide if charges will be laid. Then if needed, a hearing will be held at 5pm Monday at the NSWRL offices at Sydney Olympic Park.
The men's World Cup has had to deal with a pair of biting allegations in the PNG-Wales and the Lebanon-England pool games.
Australia's first try in the 7th minute came against the run of play, with England camped in the Jillaroos' 20-metre zone.
But a break up-field and a penalty had Australia hunting for points. It came from Kelly when she stretched out with both hands to plant the ball despite the heavy attention of two defenders.
Five minutes later Ward broke the line before passing to five-eighth Ali Brigginshaw, who drew in defenders and had fullback Nakia Davis-Welsh looming up in support. She finished the 90-metre movement by fending off tacklers to score under the posts.
Brigginshaw and Ward were at it again just minutes later with Ward scoring this time. Then Australia's opposite side winger Chelsea Baker wanted in on the action and pounced on a ball toed through by Brigginshaw to have the Jillaroos up 18-0 a quarter of the way into the contest.
By halftime England had started to plug the leaks, letting in only one other try in the opening 40, which came to forward Elianna Walton who barged over from half-a-metre out to make it 24-0 to Australia at the break.
Another three tries in the second half to Australia through Kezie Apps, Caitlin Moran, and Ward and the Jillaroos' afternoon of solid work in the warm sunshine was done. Now the Canada Ravens await on Wednesday to see if Australia can make it a 3-0 sweep in their pool.
But the fitness of co-captain Kunst is uncertain. She was helped from the field in the final two minutes with what looked like a left calf injury.
England have little time to lick their wounds before facing another bruising encounter with Cook Islands.
Coach Chris Chapman also has two concerns – a right ankle injury to centre Amy Hardcastle and a concussion test for halfback Kirsty Moroney. She was hit hard by Renae Kunst in the 48th minute and did not return to the field after her HIA (head injury assessment).
Her loss strained the thinning England attack even further. Australia made 12 linebreaks for the match against zero for England, who also missed 54 tackles to Australia's 21, although errors were shared 13-13.
Australia 38 (Ward 2, Kelly, Davis-Welsh, Baker, Walton, Apps, Moran tries; Baker 2, Moran goals) defeated England 0 at Southern Cross Group Stadium.