Ireland again made a mockery of the seedings at the IRB Women's World Cup as they proved more than a match for Australia on Saturday, going down 18-14 to the Wallaroos.
2006 IRB WOMEN'S WORLD CUP: Saturday, September 16
IRELAND 14 AUSTRALIA 18, Ellerslie Rugby Park
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Jean Lonergan, Tania Rosser; Cons: Grace Davitt 2
Australia: Tries: Trish Brown, Selena Worsley; Con: Alana Thomas; Pens: Thomas 2
Another encouraging performance from Ireland saw them test seventh seeds Australia to the limit in an end-to-end play-off.
The Wallaroos took the spoils, claiming seventh place overall, but second half tries from hooker Jean Lonergan and scrum half Tania Rosser made a mockery of the Irish seeding of tenth.
Ireland, who were only pipped by a point by the fifth-seeded Scots during the week, trailed 10-0 at the break in Edmonton.
The 'Roos hit the front courtesy of an early penalty from Alana Thomas and winger Trish Brown's 35th-minute try. Brown evaded two would-be tacklers out wide on the left and then fended off Jeanette Feighery's last-gasp challenge to make the corner. Out-half Thomas drew in the conversion with aplomb.
...The captains clash - Ireland's Sarahjane Belton is tackled by Selena Worsley...
But Lonergan rumbled over on 52 minutes, with Grace Davitt converting, and Ireland were right back in contention in the wet conditions.
A high penalty count and a plethora of turnovers saw the game fought out mostly in the forwards and a second Thomas penalty followed by an individual try from flanker and captain Selena Worsley saw the Aussies go 18-7 clear.
With only 12 minutes remaining, the game was effectively beyond Ireland's reach but the girls in green fought right until the finish.
They were rewarded for their persistence with a 78th-minute try when Rosser speared through a gap off a close-in ruck and made the corner. Davitt's conversion topped off what has been an excellent tournament for Philip Doyle's side, especially considering that Ireland finished 13th at the 2002 World Cup in Barcelona.
Ireland: Nuala Ni Chadhain; Jeanette Feighery, Lynne Cantwell, Shannon Houston, Grace Davitt; Sarahjane Belton (capt), Tania Rosser; Fiona Coghlan, Yvonne Nolan, Marie Barrett, Caroline Mahon, Germaine Healy, Eimear O'Sullivan, Rachel Boyd, Joy Neville.
Replacements used: Jean Lonergan for Nolan (45 mins), Sinead Ryan for Boyd (66), Laura Guest for Barrett, Louise Beamish for Belton (both 70), Rosie Foley for Healy (71), Suzanne Fleming for Feighery, Amanda Greensmith for Ni Chadhain (both 77).
Australia: Tobie McGann; Ruan Sims, Lisa Fiaola, Rebecca Anderson, Tricia Brown; Alana Thomas, Cheryl Soon; Lindsay Morgan, Silei Poluleuligaga, Louise Burrows, Alicia Frost, Chris Ross, Paige Butcher, Selena Worsley (capt), Tasileta Bethell.
Replacements used: Kim Wilson for Butcher (60 mins), Alexandra Hargreaves for Bethell (66). Not used: Se'ei Sau, Kate Porter, Iliseva Batibasaga, Rachelle Pirie, Kelli Donnelly.
Referee: Malcolm Changleng (Scotland)
Touch Judges: Debbie Innes (England), Rachel Boyland (Switzerland)