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The Rock-itt : October 2010
present to the Warringah players who I had shared so many great rugby moments with. I could feel the Wallaroos were ready to beat the Black Ferns having come close on two occasions now and already having beaten them in 7s at last year's inaugural World Cup. The individual skill level without doubt matches each of the New Zealand squad but winning teams must produce a combined skill that surpasses the team of individual dominance -- that synergistic creation that unites individual skill with unified belief. Once again it was not to be Australia's day. Losing the toss, the Australians had to defend with a considerable wind disadvantage. Veteran and rugby mastermind Anna Richards nicely placed several wind-assisted kicks in the first half that set New Zealand up into attacking positions that required only basic ball handling to convert into points. The Australian backrow of Debby Hodgkinson, Alex Hargreaves and Bec Trethowan were best on field, making dominant first up tackles, contesting breakdowns and on many occasions making cover tackles out wide. Things only started to go the way of the Wallaroos towards the end of the first half when a couple of penalties looked to swing the game. Backing themselves, the Wallaroos chose a scrum and then a quick tap for the succession of penalties but unfortunately were unable to convert the boldness into points. In a lack-lustre second half, dominated by turnovers and one-off plays, Australia managed their only try to ACT prop, Lindsay Morgan whilst New Zealand continued to look strong out wide with wingers Carla Hohepa and Victoria Blackledge. Other notable performance by the Wallaroos was the centre combination of Cheyenne Campbell and Sharni Williams. Aust vs Sth Africa (62-0) Losing meant New Zealand finished top of the pool and was automatically seeded for the semis. However because of the 12 team format (16 in previous World Cups means top two progress), Australia could make the top four if they finished above Canada and Ireland in points difference. This meant scoring 56 points against South Africa and keeping them scoreless! With unfinished business from the New Zealand game, the Wallaroos took charge of the game and the outcome immediately. All 22 players simply turned up to play with purpose and passion. Captain and Vice Captain, Cheryl Soon and Chris Ross led by excellent example and were everywhere. Ross and fellow second rower Kate Porter were outstanding in set piece and support play and managed to fix our struggling lineout and dominate on both offensive and defensive throws. Kristy Giteau opened the scoring after five minutes with a strong finish on the right wing and Nicole Beck's superb conversion from the sideline sent a clear message to the South Africans that they wanted to play at Twickenham. Debby Hodgkinson was again everywhere and together with her fellow backrowers Alex Hargreaves and Bec Trethowan ensured any attacking opportunities by the opposition were quickly turned over. Both Hodgkinson and Hargreaves were rewarded with tries and perhaps the best forward try came when prop Lindsay Morgan drove over after a text book support play between all three back rowers. Lindsay Morgan managed to score a second try making it three for her so far in the tournament -- certainly a record for a Wallaroo front rower. Without doubt best on field was centre Sharni Williams. Having already proved herself defensively in the earlier matches, Sharni was able to show her brilliant attacking flair. It was taking three defenders to bring her down on each crash play and her ability to straighten an attack created many overloads for the team. With the Wallaroos needing only 1 more point with 3 minutes left to play, it looked certain their unbridled desire would get them over as they launched continual attacks on the South African line. However just as the final nail was about to be driven, replacement centre Cobie Morgan dropped the ball over the line whilst trying to unnecessarily step a defender. You could feel the pain of