Australia´s Jillaroos were given a massive sixty-six point handicap on the coupon and the bookies had stopped taking bets on them winning their game with the women from Cook Islands, who you could take at odds of 100/1 for the win.
The Cook Islands met Australia in the 2017 World Cup where they went down by 58-4, scoring their only points six minutes from full time, but they did beat the England Knights by 26-14 in their warm-up match in Leeds last week.
It was the final game of the opening round, Australia ranked as World number one in the women´s game against the side ranked eleventh.
The Cook Islands allowed the kick off to bounce dead in goal, Australia getting first use of the ball deep in Cook Islands territory. After back-to-back sets the Jillaroos worked the ball left and Evania Pelite stepped past the tacklers and went in to ground from ten metres out. Lauren Brown couldn´t add the extras in difficult conditions.
Mackenzie Wiki knocked on a kick through ten from her own line on eight minutes and on the second tackle Caitlan Johnston Crashed through the line after taking a reverse pass from Brown. Brown added the conversion and already it was 10-0.
On thirteen Tarryn Aiken supported well after putting in the initial pass to Isabel Kelly and then took the return to run through the broken defence. Brown slotted over the extras for 16-0, the game going to the bookie’s expectations.
Aussie fullback Sammy Bremner took the pass twenty from the line and outpaced her opposite number to score by the posts. Brown added the conversion from under the posts for 22-0. The Jillaroos already heading out of sight.
On twenty-four they were in again Kelly somehow managing to pass to Pelite in the in-goal area before she was dragged dead in goal by Wiki, the static winger dotting down for her second of the night. Brown drilled her kick, but it was wide of the uprights. The Jillaroos managing to maintain their point a minute record.
It was way too easy on twenty-nine as centre Shenae Ciesiolka threw a dummy and went thirty metres outside the tacklers, round to score closer to the posts. Brown added the conversion for 32-0.
A beautiful kick to the corner from Bremner was collected and scored in one movement by Julia Robinson for the seventh Australian try of the night. Brown couldn´t find the target from wide, the score 36-0 with five first half minutes remaining.
The Cook Islands almost started the second half with a try but Charlize Tamu-Makara knocked-on over the line. Australia weren´t hanging about and quickly advanced downfield, Bremner going in for her second of the night to bring up the forty. Ali Brigginshaw took over the kicking duties but couldn´t find the target with the conversion attempt.
On fifty-three debutant Taliah Fuimaona scored the ninth Australian try with a short-range effort as the Cook Islands tired after putting in a tremendous effort for the first fifteen minutes of the half. Holli Wheeler added the conversion.
Within two minutes Julia Robinson went in for her second as she took a miss-out pass and rounded the defensive line to go in. Wheeler was again on target, the score now 52-0 and it was looking like a miserable night for the Cook Islanders.
Once again the Jillaroos were scoring at will, Bremner getting her hat-trick try as she took the pass from Ali Brigginshaw. Wheeler hit the mark with the conversion. Bremmer’s fourth came on sixty-three, the defence again opening for her to run through at will. Brown was back with the ball and added the conversion for 64-0.
Pelite completed her debut hat-trick on sixty-nine taking a looping pass ten out from the line and going in down the left wing. Brown was wide with a drilled conversion attempt, Australia just short of a point a minute.
Aiken got her brace and scored the fourteenth unanswered Australia try after a nice one-two to sprint in under t he sticks. Brown added her sixth goal of the game for 74-0 with just over a minute remaining.
As expected, it was an easy win for Australia over the Cook Islands as they scored at will and faced very little from the opposition forwards. Australia will have much bigger challenges than this once they progress through to the semi-finals but for now, they will be delighted with their start to the tournament having delivered exactly what the coach asked them for.
Australia: Bremner (4T), Robinson (2T), Ciesiolka (T), Kelly, Pelite (3T), Aiken (2T), Brigginshaw, Mato, Brown (6G), Johnston (T), Apps, Kernick, Taufa. Subs: Fuimaona (T), Wheeler (3G), Cherrington, Clydsdale.
Cook Islands: Wiki, Koiatu, Matua, Takairangi, Rongokea, Breayley-Nati, Kiria-Ratu, Tanevesi, Dean, Ngatupuna, Kitai, Tuaana, Stephens. Subs: Tupou-Witchman, Natua, Tumu-Makara, Tatuava.
Score Progression: 4-0, 8-0, 10-0, 14-0, 16-0, 20-0, 22-0, 26-0, 30-0, 32-0, 36-0 : HT : 40-0, 44-0, 46-0, 50-0, 52-0, 56-0, 58-0, 62-0, 64-0, 68-0, 72-0, 74-0 : FT .
Lead Exchanges: Australia.
Referee: Michael Smail.
Attendance: ? at the LNER Community Stadium, York.