It was a Down Under derby at York's LNER Stadium as the women's World Cup semi-finals got underway this evening: Australia's Jilleroos taking on the Papua New Guinea Orchids.
Australian captain Ali Brigginshaw warned her team not to underestimate the opposition, many of whom play in the NRLW as they run out for the first time in a World Cup semi. The Jilleroos, on the other hand, have their sights on lifting the Cup for the third time in a row at Old Trafford next week.
A win – and a trip to Manchester – for the Orchids would continue a history-making series: their first ever World Cup win came in the opening round of this tournament, when they beat Canada's Ravens.
It took three minutes for the favourites to mount their first dangerous foray into PNG territory, but they ended it by gifting a scrum to the Orchids. who themselves won a penalty for a ball steal in the Australian half.
But it was Australia who opened the scoring on nine minutes when Keely Davis sneaked in from dummy half, with her try converted by the reliable Lauren Brown.
After that first score, the dam broke when Brown broke through the Orchids turned supplier for Elizabeth Kelly on the wing. Her touch-line conversion attempt fell short of the posts, but the Jilleroos led 10-0.
Kelly got her second one minute later when the PNG defence failed to get set, leaving three Australian players with space in front of them. The ball moved to Kelly on the wing for a walk-in.
Again, there was no successful conversion from the touchline and the score stood at 14-0 with a quarter of the match gone.
The Austrlan's fourth came on 21 minutes minutes when Shaylee Bent took advantage of a disorganised Orchids defence moving up and sliding left to dart through a hole that opened up in front of her and dash in near the posts. Brown made no mistake with that conversion and Australia led 20-0.
Evania Pelite was the next to cross the line for Australia, running through the isolated Shae Yvonne de la Cruz at full back afterEmma Tonegato broke through defence and grounding for a 24-0 score. Brown's conversion attempt bounced off the post.
The next try came when Senae Ciesiolka broke down the right touchline and raced clear to ground the ball in the corner. With no conversion again, they now led 28-0.
The Orchids were turning the ball over too easily when in possession while the Jilleroos were slipping tackles in every set when they were. And when they won a penalty on the PNG try line the next score was inevitable.
Olivia Kernick put it down between the posts to make Brown's conversion a formality for a 34-0 with just over three minutes to go in the half.
But there was still time for Kelly together her hat-trick try in the left corner, and for Brown to convert for a 40-point lead.
With eight tries and four goals, the Jilleroos had scored a point a minute.
The second half was just two minutes old when Kelly broke down the left and passed wide to Elizabeth Sergis who crossed in the corner but ran infield to score. Brown's Boal made it 46-0.
Ciesiolka's second try in the right corner brought up the 50. Brown's fifth conversion made it 52.
Joseph crossed under the posts again on 48 minutes, but a superb try-saying tackle from Elsie Harden stopped the score - for at least minute. That's the time it took for Tallisha Harden to cross the line and successfully ground the ball.
Brown Converted that, and the following try by Emma Tonagato which followed a midfield break. With 54 minutes played, Australia had scored 64 points to the Orchids' none.
When Tonegato's second try came on 57 minutes it took the score to 68, Brown couldn't improve it.
Papa New Guinea tried a short kick-off and Shelly Long collected to start a dangerous in the Australian half - until they dropped the ball. But they were starting to press and forced a goal-line dropout from Australia a couple of minutes later, followed by Aiton crossing under the posts only to be held up. Then came a penalty on the line, but the Jilleroos' defence held strong.
And then Jaime Chapman raced the length of the field and score under the PNG posts when Australia got the ball. Ali Brigginshow took over the kicking duty and made no mistake slotting over the conversion. With 66 minutes gone, the Jilleroos now led 76-0.
Tonegato got her hat-trick on 74 minutes, running round the right edge of a compressed PNG defence to bring up the 80-point score. Brigginshaw made it 82.
De la Cruz crossed the line in the corner with just over two minutes to go. But before she could ground it, Chapman charged in to tackle her into touch.
The Orchids had been denied their last chance to score a try and the hooter blew on the 82-0 score.
Australia had marched imperiously to a date next Saturday at Old Trafford. But while Papua New Guinea had not scored a point, they hadk made the sem-final in the same tournament they won their first World Cup game.
Australia Jillaroos: Tonegato (3T); Ciesiolka (2T), Chapman (T), Kelly (3T), Pelite (T); Brown (9G), Fuimaono; Harden (T), Davis (T), Kernick (T), Bent (T), Brigginshaw (2G). Subs, Sergis (T), Clydsdale, Bremner, Joseph.
Papua New Guinea Orchids: de la Cruz; Molowia, Gwasamun, Long, Butler; Malabag, Koroi; Kaua, Aton, Albert,Banu, Awoi, Reeves. Subs: Kunji, Veivers, John, Mumeu
Full Time: 82-0.
Half Time: 40-0.
Score progression: 4-0, 6-0, 10-0, 14-0, 18-0, 20-0, 24-0, 28-0, 32-0, 34-0, 38-0, 40-0. HT: 44-0, 46-0, 50-0, 52-0, 56-0, 58-0, 62-0, 64-0, 68-0, 72-0, 766-0, 80-0, 82-0. FT.
Referee: Belinda Sharpe.
Venue: LNER Community Stadium York.