The Wallaroos marked Shannon Parry's retirement with a 22-5 victory over Fijiana at Allianz Stadium in Sydney
Backrower Ash Marsters was outstanding for the Australians, powering them to an early lead. A double to Maya Stewart either side of the half gave them a significant cushion heading into the final 30 minutes. The Fijians came back late, however, a try to Ivania Wong sealed the win.
“It was a nice way to finish the career on a positive note but I think the team put in a really positive effort tonight," Parry said after the match. “We were challenged by Fiji in various parts of the game. You’re almost scoring at one end and they’re nearly making you pay at the other. I thought we scrambled well and hung in the fight which was really pleasing. When I started in 2008, I had the dream of playing for the Wallaroos - just one Test. 13 years later, I’ve been there and accomplished what I wanted to do. For me it’s about creating a lasting legacy so kids get that opportunity as well to wear the green and gold and add to this legacy. It’s something special, you sing that national anthem and there’s nothing like it, you’re shoulder-to-shoulder with your teammates and you’re about to go to battle. I’ve loved every minute of it.”
Marsters, who last played as a hooker for the Wallaroos, shone at blindside flanker. The player of the match answered the physicality of Fijiana off the kick off and made her intentions known with a great break early in the game. This put the hosts on the front foot as centre Cecilia Smith beat the defence for the opener.
The Fijiana side looked to avenge last year’s defeat in Brisbane but the Australians muscled up in defence and forced the turnover. This allowed a nice interchange of hands between forwards and backs, with Marsters showing off the skills to put Maya Stewart into space, with the Waratahs flyer blitzing past the defence to extend the lead by five. Fijiana refused to go away and their exciting brand of Rugby lit up Allianz late in the first half. They peppered the Wallaroos’ line and looked certain to score, only for some heroic defence by the likes of Adiana Talakai and Grace Hamilton forcing the mistake to ensure they took a 10-0 lead at the break.
Marsters continued to torment the Fijianas and was there to put Stewart over for her second. This kicked the visitors into life as they looked for any way through the Australians as they rallied in defence. They held up Fijiana twice but when Drua captain Bitila Tawake went searching from close, she proved unstoppable.
Jay Tregonning turned to his bench and got some great injection from debutant scrum half Jasmin Huriwai. Huriwai’s break flipped momentum late and quick hands put Ivania Wong over for a well-deserved try. It capped off a perfect start to the 2023 season as captain Parry ends her legendary career with victory.
TRIES: Smith, Stewart 2, Wong
CONS: Smith 0/1, Dallinger 1/3
CONS: Tisolo 0/1
WALLAROOS v FIJIANA TEAMS
WALLAROOS (1-15): Bree-Anna Cheatham, Adiana Talakai, Eva Karpani, Michaela Leonard, Annabelle Codey, Ashley Marsters, Shannon Parry (c), Grace Hamilton, Layne Morgan, Carys Dallinger, Ivania Wong, Cecilia Smith, Georgina Friedrichs, Maya Stewart, Faitala Moleka
RESERVES: Tania Naden, Emily Robinson, Bridie O'Gorman, Sera Naiqama, Tabua Tuinakauvadra, Jasmin Huriwai, Siokapesi Palu, Alana Eilisaia
FIJIANA (1-15): Iris Verebalavu, Litia Marama, Siteri Rasolea, Doreen Narokete, Karalaini Naisewa, Sulita Waisega, Sereima Leweniqila (c), Evivi Senikarivi, Jennifer Ravutia, Raijeli Laqeretabua, Merewai Cumu, Vani Arei, Rosi Lomani, Luisa Tisolo
RESERVES: Keleni Marawa, Bitila Tawake, Ana Korovata, Jade Coates, Asinate Serevi, Setaita Railjumu, Wainikiti Vosadrau, Adita Milinia