A buoyant Wallaroos side fresh from a 2-0 series win over Japan were given a reminder of the work still to do after going down to a 47-10 defeat to world champions New Zealand on home soil at the Optus Stadium in Perth on Saturday.
Australia had never beaten New Zealand in a women's international in 17 previous attempts and any hopes they had of ending that run were effectively over by half-time as the Black Ferns established a 22-0 lead in the Laurie O'Reilly Memorial Trophy contest.
Missed tackles and a malfunctioning lineout stymied Australia throughout and New Zealand bossed the game, number eight Charmaine McMenamin (main picture) scoring the first of her two tries from a lineout drive as the Black Ferns set about their task with relish.
A busting run from McMenamin then set up Renee Wickliffe for the second try before Wickliffe returned the favour with a superb break straight up the middle of the park that set the platform for McMenamin’s second try.
When fly-half Ruahei Demant scored a brilliant solo try, it was 22-0 and the match seemed as a good as over.
Credit to the Wallaroos, they fought back and scored two tries through impressive winger Lori Cramer, but the Black Ferns doubled their try tally with four second-half scores of their own. Selica Winiata halted the Wallaroos' momentum before Ayesha Leti-I’iga, captain Les Elder and Joanah Ngan-Woo crossed for further tries.
While Australia were left contemplating how they can turn things around in the space of a week before the return fixture at Eden Park in Auckland, at least in World Rugby Women's Rankings terms they are no worse off as the difference between the teams remains at 15.20 points and six places with New Zealand still top and Australia seventh.
Meanwhile, in the Rugby Africa Women's Cup, which will determine the region's qualifier for Women's Rugby World Cup 2021 in New Zealand, there were wins for the two higher-ranked sides with Kenya dashing Madagascar's hopes of a winning start to test rugby with a 35-5 victory while hosts South Africa overwhelmed Uganda 89-5 at Bosman Stadium in Brakpan on Friday.
Neither result affected ranking positions but Kenya, in 28th, picked up 0.62 of a point to close the gap on Jamaica above them to just six-hundredths of a point. Madagascar enter the rankings in 41st with every nation from Zimbabwe down dropping one place as result.