Australia 74-0 Cook Islands: Jillaroos open title defence with big win

Sebastian Sternik
Australia Samantha Bremner

Australia kicked off the defence of their world championship crown with am emphatic 74-0 demolition of the Cook Islands. 

Sammy Bremner was the star of the show on her return to the Jillaroos squad. The Aussie skipper bagged four tries and was voted player of the match as the tournament favourites put on a clinic at the LNER Community Stadium in York. 

Evania Pelite also crossed for a hat-trick as the Cook Islands succumbed to the arguably unmatchable level of quality in the Aussie squad. 

Getting off to a good start against the best team in the world was a necessity, though the Cook Islands endured the exact opposite. 

Match report

As Australia’s kick off bounced out of play, the underdogs were immediately put under pressure. The Jillaroos were intent on turning their early goal-line drop-out into points and they didn’t disappoint as Pelite powered over the whitewash. 

With eight minutes gone, the Aussies capitalised on yet another error. A last tackle kick from Tarryn Aiken was spilled by Cook Islands full-back Mackenzie Wiki. Australia picked up the ball 10 metres out and a deceptive pass from Lauren Brown was turned into four points by Caitlan Johnston. 

Australia were beginning to find their groove and they soon scored a third through Aiken to take a 16-0 advantage on the quarter-of-an-hour mark.

Bremner, who was in the team for the first time since giving birth to her second child, scored her first try of the game just five minutes later. The Aussie full-back capitalised on a scintillating break from Simaima Taufa. 

Three more efforts followed in the opening half as Australia’s dominance showed no sign of stopping. Pelite, Ciesiolka and Julia Robinson were on the scoresheet as the Jillaroos closed out the first-half 36 points in-front. 

HT: Australia 36-0 Cook Islands

Failing to collect Cook Island’s kick off in the second half was arguably the only error the Aussies made in the remainder of the contest. 

Despite the mistake, Bremner soon edged Australia further ahead with her second effort of the game. 

A deadly nine-minute spell soon ensued as the World Cup frontrunners scored four quick-fire tries. Tailah Fuimaono’s 53rd minute effort was followed by a flood of points as Robinson and Pelite got over the whitewash. Bremner also contributed with two more efforts – completing her four-try rout of the opposition. 

Aiken scored the final try of the game in the 77th minute though the Australian’s were forced to do some last-minute defending as the Cook Islands simply refused to throw in the towel. 

Despite their world-class attitude, the small Pacific island were ultimately outdone by arguably the greatest international women’s rugby league side ever assembled. 

FT: Australia 74-0 Cook Islands

Australia: Sammy Bremner, Julia Robinson, Shenae Ciesiolka, Isabelle Kelly, Evania Pelite, Tarryn Aiken, Ali Brigginshaw, Shannon Mato, Lauren Brown, Caitlan Johnston, Kezie Apps, Olivia Kernick, Simaima Taufa. Subs: Taliah Fuimaono, Holli Wheeler, Kennedy Cherrington, Yasmin Clydsdale, Emma Tonegato.

Tries: Pelite 2, 24, 69, Johnston 8, Aiken 13, 77, Bremner 20, 43, 59, 62, Ciesiolka 29, Robinson 32, 56, Taliah 53

Conversions: Brown 6, Brigginshaw 2, Wheeler 1

Cook Islands: Mackenzie Wiki, Beniamina Koiatu, Kere Matua, Kiana Takairangi, Daimzel Rongokea, Kimiora Breayley-Nati, Chantay Kiria-Ratu, Karol-Ann Tanevesi, Tetuanui Agnes Dean, April Ngatupuna, Lavinia Kitai, Alekermay Tuaana, Anneka Stephens. Subs: Jazmon Tupou-Witchman, Toka Natua, Charlize-Gazelle Tumu-Makara, Tehinnah-Lael Tatuava, Mireka Dean.

Attendance: 3,091 (For the full double header)

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