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Wallaroos win after 956-day Test drought

By AAP
(L-R) Bridie O'Gorman, Kaitlan Leaney and Adiana Talakai of the Wallaroos stand together during the national anthems prior to the start of the Women's International Test match between the Australia Wallaroos and Fijiana at Suncorp Stadium on May 06, 2022 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)

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The Wallaroos have celebrated ending their 956-day rugby Test match drought with an impressive 36-19 defeat of Fiji in Brisbane.

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Denied a chance to wear the Australian gold since 2019 due to COVID-19, the Wallaroos channelled the emotion of a teary national anthem in a clinical performance at Suncorp Stadium on Friday.

They were pushed by the dangerous Fijiana, who boasted a host of talent that recently romped undefeated to the Super W title in their maiden season.

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Up by seven with 20 minutes to play, Australian captain Shannon Parry boldly opted to kick for touch rather than kick a penalty.

It paid off, a clinical maul from the lineout helping hooker Ashley Marsters to a crucial try.

Fijiana almost started with 16 players, a timely head count forcing one back to the bench before kick off.

They were then down to 14 when Roela Radiniyavuni was yellow carded for a deliberate knockdown that led to a penalty try being awarded.

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The result is a boost for the rusty Wallaroos, who will face Japan on Tuesday on the Gold Coast, ahead of the World Cup in New Zealand in October.

The Wallaroos’ backline did the early damage, centre Pauline Piliae claiming player of the match, with winger Mahalia Murphy and pocket rocket winger Ivania Wong also impressive.

Piliae scored one try and and set two up two more while Murphy also crossed and veteran prop Liz Patu, in her 24th Test, bagged a try in another impressive shift.

Fijiana hooker Vika Matarugu scored two close-range tries in the first half, while Talei Wilson kept them in the contest with a try after sustained pressure in the second half.

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But the Wallaroos, anchored by backrower Parry, contained Fijiana’s dangerous backline to stave off any signs of a comeback.

Parry then iced the contest with a try of her own, plucking a pass from Georgie Friedrichs’ linebreak.

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