The Jillaroos have stormed into a fourth consecutive World Cup Final with a dominant 82-0 win over the PNG Orchids in York on Tuesday morning (AEDT).
With Isabelle Kelly and Emma Tonegato grabbing hat-tricks, Australia got the job done in style to move into the Old Trafford decider where they will face arch-rivals New Zealand.
The defending champions made a sluggish start with five-eighth Taliah Fuimaono kicking out on the full in the third minute and skipper Tallisha Harden making a mistake in the play-the-ball.
A barnstorming run by Elsie Albert gave PNG a shot at first points after seven minutes but Sera Koroi's grubber kick was far too heavy and Australia came back with a seven-tackle set.
Jillaroos hooker Keeley Davis steadied the ship in the 10th minute when she got over from dummy half and Lauren Brown converted for 6-0.
Some sharp lead-up work by Brown in the 15th minute gave Kelly the chance to power into the back field and she powered over the top of Shae Yvonne De La Cruz to score Australia's second try.
Kelly gets a first-half hat-trick
Kelly had a double soon after when Tonegato joined the line and delivered the final pass for the Roosters centre to cross wide out.
A great moment for back-rower Shaylee Bent when she grabbed her first Test try in the 22nd minute courtesy of another classy assist from Brown, before Evania Pelite crossed for Australia's fifth try three minutes later.
Tonegato's speed continued to pose problems for the Orchids and she had another try assist in the 28th minute when she found space on the right edge and sent winger Shenae Ciesiolka over for her third try of the tournament.
Tries to Olivia Kernick and a third to Kelly took Australia to a 40-0 lead at the break and Brown got the ball rolling in the second half when she bamboozled the defence and found Kelly who delivered the final pass for Jess Sergis to score.
Ciesiolka had a double in the 46th minute before Albert produced a trysaver to deny Keilee Joseph but it was only a temporaray reprieve, Harden surging over in the 49th minute as the score hit 58-0.
Tonegato grabbed a quick fire double in the space of five minutes before Jaime Chapman became Australia's 10th different tryscorer when she ran the length of the field to make it 76-0 with 15 minutes to play.
Slick ball movement to the left side handed Tonegato her third for the match as the former Olympian continued to dazzle in her audition for the fullback role in the final.
The Orchids looked set to grab a late try when De La Cruz found space on the left but Chapman came across in cover with a bone rattler to shut the play down and ensure the Jillaroos kept a clean sheet.
Match: Australia v Papua New Guinea
Semi Finals -
Papua New Guinea
Venue: LNER Community Stadium, York
- This was the first ever meeting between the Jillaroos and Orchids in a full international.
- Orchids prop Elsie Albert came into the game with 262 post-contact metres, the most in the tournament, and she added another 85 post-contact metres in the semi-final as she led her team forward all night.
- Jillaroos centre Isabelle Kelly scored a double in the 2017 World Cup semi-final against Canada and followed up with three tonight.
- Australia had 73 per cent of possession in the first half and completed 15 of 21 sets while the Orchids had just eight sets and completed five.
- Jillaroos co-captain Sam Bremner came from the bench and was put into the game at the start of the second half by coach Brad Donald.
- Orchids bench forward Emily Veivers left the field in the 47th minute for a HIA which she passed, returning to the field in the 62nd minute.
Tonegato supreme in player of the match performance
- Jillaroos co-captain Kezie Apps missed the game with an adductor strain, one of seven changes to the side that beat New Zealand in the final pool game.
- Emma Tonegato had a huge game at fullback for Australia with three tries, 246 running metres, nine tackle breaks and three try assists.
- Hooker Therese Aiton got through a power of work in defence for the Orchids with 42 tackles.
- The Jillaroos racked up 82 tackle breaks for the match compared to 16 for the Orchids.
- Holli Wheeler and Olivia Kernick made 27 tackles apiece for Australia.
Play of the Game
Emma Tonegato made the most of her opportunity at fullback with a number of slashing runs in the first half, displaying all her speed and balance to set up tries for Isabelle Kelly, Evania Pelite and Shenae Ciesiolka. A 60-metre effort from their own side of halfway was the best of Australia's eight first-half tries, Tonegato gliding into space on the right edge and making 30 metres before sending a perfectly timed pass back inside for Ciesiolka to finish the job. Tonegato made 116 running metres in the first half and had four tackle breaks to go with her three try assists.
What They Said
"Defence wins games, we had a few close calls there and we defended our line and we showed up for each other. We started off a little bit scrappy, a few little errors, so hopefully we can tidy that up and just come out and defend our hearts out [in the final]. That's the thing we're most proud of and hopefully you'll see a connected line. Whoever we play in the final it will be a great game and I've heard the stadium is amazing so I'm looking forward to it." - Jillaroos fullback and player of the match Emma Tonegato
“We were desperate to score a try but it wasn’t to be. When you get a scoreline put on you like that you probably haven’t turned up ready to play and that’s a lesson for the group. We don’t accept that scoreline in our group anymore. The size of the defeat and the scoreline is not acceptable. But one thing it has been is a successful campaign. They’ve won two games and changed the face and the women’s pathway. They should hold their heads up high as the first PNG Orchids team to play in a semi-final so the standard is set now going into 2025." - Orchids coach Ben Jeffries
"We keep saying that it has taken all 24 players to make it to the final and it has, every person has played a few games and I think that shows the depth of our squad. We've loved York but we can't wait to get to Manchester for a bit of a change and we're super excited. There's a few things we can work on but I think we can go to another level and big games bring out really good performances in people. I was happy to be out there with the combinations we had. I love playing with Evania [Pelite] she's just a massive enforcer." - Jillaroos centre Isabelle Kelly
"Emma and I didn't know each other before this tournament and she's been an absolute pleasure to coach. And you can bet that she will be playing somewhere in the team going forward for the final. What the girls did tonight, if you look more intricately to the details, then all the pieces of the puzzle are fitting into place. I'm confident that we can put our best foot forward and bring that trophy back home to Australia." - Jillaroos coach Brad Donald
It's a one hundred metre sprint!
The Jillaroos are chasing a World Cup three-peat after taking the title in the UK in 2013 and in Australia in 2017. If the Jillaroos can win the World Cup for a third time they will join New Zealand (2000, 2003, 2008) with three titles.
The Orchids will set their sights on France 2025 after savouring victories over Canada and Brazil at this World Cup after going winless at the 2017 tournament.