Sam Bremner scored four tries in her return to international rugby league, helping the Jillaroos to a 74-0 win against a gusty Cook Islands in their opening pool match.
Evania Pelite also crossed for a hat-trick in her debut for Australia, while Tarryn Aiken was also a multiple try-scorer in her first match for the Jillaroos with a double.
Bremner, who is one of the three captains appointed by coach Brad Donald for the Jillaroos in this year's Rugby League World Cup campaign, hadn't taken to the field for Australia since 2016, but was in fine form, claiming player of the match honours.
While it was a big win to Australia, they didn't have everything their own way with the Cook Islands putting in some strong defensive hits, forcing the Jillaroos into making more errors than expected.
Brilliant Bremner gets four
The Jillaroos went into the game without a warm-up match, opting instead for an intense training camp before leaving Australia for the UK, but in the end it didn't adversely affect the reigning champions who went into the halftime break leading 36-0. Overall, Australia made a statement to the tournament with a big win which saw the side make 2000 metres, in contrast to 690 for Cook Islands.
Match: Australia v Cook Islands
Round 1 -
Cook Islands Moana
Venue: LNER Community Stadium, York
- Australian co-captain Sam Bremner scored four tries in her international return, claiming player of the match honours.
- All three captains played for Australia in their opening pool match, with Ali Brigginshaw and Kezie Apps also performing well.
- Overall, Australia had 10 players on Test debut.
- Five of the Jillaroos rookies scored in their debuts, with Evania Pelite crossing for a hat-trick and Tarryn Aiken scoring a double. Caitlan Johnston, Shenae Ciesiolka and Taliah Fuimaono also got on the scoreboard.
- Australia used three different goal kickers in the match, with Lauren Brown, Ali Brigginshaw and Holli Wheeler making conversion attempts.
- Cook Islands prop Kerehitina Matua proved to be a crowd favourite, producing some huge hits.
- Moana young gun Chantay Kiria-Ratu attracted attention before the match as a player to watch and she performed well in her international debut, but it was her halves partner in the more experienced Kimiora Breayley-Nati who produced the most pressure on the Jillaroos, with some clever kicking being rewarded with back-to-back sets.
- Both sides made 10 errors overall in the match, something Australia in particular will be looking to address before their next match.
Play of the match
Australia crossed for 14 tries in the match overall, with debutants including Evania Pelite, scoring in their first outing for Australia. While made to work for the first try of her hat-trick, it's doubtful she'll score an easier try than her second of the night. A literal 'Vani on the spot', Pelite did not have to move an inch to take in an offload from Isabelle Kelly who was about to be sent over the sideline by Mackenzie Wiki, who had chased well after Australia made a break downfield which saw the ball go from Tarryn Aiken to Kezie Apps to Aiken again, before Kelly looked certain to run over the line and score.
Kelly 'magic trick' foils Wiki try saver
What they said
"The girls were fantastic, I think it just shows how much that they were looking forward to playing tonight. All credit to the Cooks, they kept showing up, (but) our girls were just on their game tonight. We've got a little bit of work to do, but really, really good. We have a fair few players who will get a run in four days' time and are looking forward to getting on the field as well." - Brad Donald, Jillaroos coach.
"There is nothing better than playing in this jersey, I was so proud of every girl that pulled the jersey on, especially our debutants tonight. Unbelievable start, we wanted to come out here and we have high expectations and I thought we stuck to them. There's a few little errors there, but we can work on them." - Ali Brigginshaw, Jillaroos co-captain.
Matua monsters Bremner
The Jillaroos will next face France on Monday morning (AEDT), while Cook Islands will play New Zealand in their Round 2 match, with both games being played at York.