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Upton making impactful debut as Jillaroos withstand Kiwi Ferns' challenge

Upton making impactful debut as Jillaroos withstand Kiwi Ferns’ challenge

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Match Report: Upton debuts in style as Jillaroos outlast Kiwi Ferns

Rugby League: Harvey Norman Jillaroos defeat Kiwi Ferns in Pacific Championships opener

By Martin Lenehan, NRL Senior Journalist | Sat 14 Oct 2023, 07:42 PM

On Saturday, the Harvey Norman Jillaroos showcased their dominance in a thrilling 16-10 victory over the Kiwi Ferns in the Pacific Championships opener at Queensland Country Bank Stadium. The match served as a momentous Test debut for Dally M Medal winner, Tamika Upton, who played a pivotal role in the Jillaroos‘ triumph. Upton, who recently collected her fourth NRLW premiership and the prestigious Dally M Medal, scored two tries and ran for an impressive 214 metres, earning herself the player of the match award.

A Stellar Debut

Upton’s impactful Test debut began in the fifth minute when she sprinted 40 metres to score after her skipper, Ali Brigginshaw, broke through the Kiwi Ferns’ defense and found Upton in support. Despite the Kiwi Ferns’ quick response with an equalizing try in the 13th minute, Upton continued to shine. In the 23rd minute, a mistake by Kiwi Ferns winger Leianne Tufuga led to field position for the Jillaroos, resulting in a line dropout and ultimately a try by Caitlan Johnston. Just before halftime, Upton added to her tally by outmaneuvering Georgia Hale to score her second try of the match.

Resilient Response from the Kiwi Ferns

After halftime, the Kiwi Ferns displayed their fighting spirit, narrowing the score gap to 16-10 with a powerful try by Mele Hufanga, who left five defenders in her wake. However, despite several opportunities, the Kiwi Ferns were unable to close the deficit further. Their efforts should be commended, considering their previous loss to the Jillaroos in the World Cup final by a staggering 50 points. This performance serves as a positive step forward for the Kiwi Ferns, demonstrating their determination and improvement over the past year.

The Battle Continues

Despite the Jillaroos‘ victory, both teams showed promise and determination, setting the stage for an anticipated rematch in two weeks’ time at AAMI Park in Melbourne. Jillaroos coach Brad Donald acknowledged the Kiwi Ferns’ strong performance and emphasized the need for his team to improve and play to their strengths in the upcoming match. On the other hand, Kiwi Ferns coach Ricky Henry praised his team’s resilience and highlighted the exceptional performance of Mele Hufanga, who proved herself as one of the best centres in the sport.

Looking Ahead

The Kiwi Ferns will face Mate Ma’a Tonga in Auckland next Saturday, while the Jillaroos will have a week off before the much-anticipated rematch in Melbourne. With the Jillaroos having won 15 consecutive tests, the Kiwi Ferns will be eager to break their winning streak and showcase their continued improvement and competitiveness in women’s rugby.


Upton making impactful debut as Jillaroos withstand Kiwi Ferns
<< photo by Jorgen Hendriksen >>
The image is for illustrative purposes only and does not depict the actual situation.

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Patterson Fiona

Hello, Australia! Fiona Patterson here. I'm your go-to gal for all things politics. I've been on the beat for more than a decade, so when it comes to the ins and outs of Canberra, I'm fair dinkum. Let's rip into it and cut through the jargon together.

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