RUGBY

Wallaroos suffer loss in rugby WC opener

Wallaroos suffer loss in rugby WC opener
Australia has begun its women's rugby union World Cup campaign with a 19-17 loss to host nation Ireland.

Australia have begun their women's rugby union World Cup campaign with a 19-17 loss to host nation Ireland.

The new-look Wallaroos conceded the first try when Irish flyhalf Nora Stapleton crossed after 20 minutes in the pool C clash in Dublin on Wednesday.

But winger Mahalia Murphy hit back eight minutes later after Australia won a lineout on the back of a midfield break by Sevens star Sharni Williams.

Speedy debutante Murphy, one of nine changes from the last-start heavy loss to Canada in June, received a long pass from fullback Samantha Treherne 25m from the line, slicing through defenders to score untouched.

Treherne missed the conversion, helping Ireland to a 7-5 lead in half-time.

The visitors took a three-point lead when co-captain Shannon Parry drove over in the 56th minute, with Treherne again failing to add the extras.

But world No.5 Ireland, who dominated the match for territory and possession, hit back with two tries to lead 19-10 with nine minutes remaining.

Wallaroos substitute Ashleigh Hewson scored in the 73rd to set up a tense finale.

But the hosts, who finished second in the European Six Nations tournament this year, held on for a perfect start to their campaign.

Australia next play France on August 14 before its final pool match against Japan four days later.

France lead the group after a 72-14 win over Japan, while world No.3 Canada beat Hong Kong 98-0 and New Zealand overran Wales 44-12 in pool A.

Kiwi fullback Selica Winiata bagged a hat-trick while there was a double for winger Renee Wickliffe as the four-time champions started the tournament in resounding fashion.