The Wallaroos are resigned to – at best – fighting it out for fifth spot at the women’s Rugby World Cup after being eliminated from the semi-final race thanks to Monday’s drubbing at the hands of the French.
Despite a starring performance from Kinross product Grace Hamilton which saw the bustling No.8 awarded her side’s best on ground and players’ player awards, the Wallaroos couldn’t match it with France and as a result were hammered 48-0.
Monday’s loss combined with a first-up defeat to Ireland shattered Australia’s top four hopes, the Wallaroos now needing a victory in their final pool match against Japan to have a hope of making the fifth-place play-off game.
Like the Australians, the Japanese fell to Ireland in a thriller. Japan led the host nation 14-0 before losing control, particularly at the set piece, and ultimately lost out 24-14.
“We saw Japan were very strong against the Irish," Wallaroos coach Paul Verrell said.
"They led for most of the game and just fell off the pace at the end. They're a very well drilled side, a fit side and they'll challenge us on [Friday morning, AEST]."
Backing up her huge performance against the Irish, Hamilton was outstanding against France.
Her physicality at the breakdown and strength in contact constantly catapulted the Wallaroos forward but even so her side, as Verrell said, was simply “outclassed”.
France attacked out wide and that showed as wingers Shannon Izar and Chloe Pelle scored a hat-trick and a double, respectively, in the eight-tries-to-none romp.
All three of Izar’s five-pointers came in the first half as the French produced some absolutely scintillating rugby to lead 29-0 at the break.
The second half was marginally better for the Australians, but the French still managed to score 19 points to none to complete the victory.
"We came up against a very good French side," Verrell said.
"They were very fit, well drilled, aggressive, they brought their number one game and we struggled to match them early on.
"We paid the price with the score that we got.
"We just had to go back to how we played against Ireland, the aggressiveness and physicality that we had.
"I think that was lacking. We stepped out again in the second half and improved but we just need to do that for 80 minutes."
Hamilton and her Wallaroos face Japan from 2am on Friday morning (AEST), at Dublin’s Billings Park UCD.