Parkes’ Talehsa Quinn is on the cusp of snaring the biggest prize possible in women’s rugby league after the Australian Jillaroos qualified for the World Cup final.
Defending champions and tournament favourites, the Jillaroos thumped Canada Ravens 58-6 in Saturday’s semi-final at Southern Cross Group Stadium.
Coached by former Bathurst Panther Brad Donald the side will now meet the Kiwi Ferns, who accounted for England 52-4, in this Saturday’s decider.
Though the Jillaroos were not quite able to emulate the 88-0 trouncing of the Ravens they had enjoyed four days earlier and made a handful of errors in the second half, Donald was happy with the effort.
“I’m really pleased to win a semi-final by 50 points,” he said.
“We could have finished the game off a little bit better than we did, but to be honest, we ended up with a back rower in the centres and just trying to make sure we got everyone a run.”
The Jillaroos side, which includes Parkes product Talehsa Quinn and Orange native Vanessa Foliaki, made an impressive start to the semi-final.
Ali Brigginshaw crossed in the opening set to set the tone for a dominant first half, the Jillaroos scoring at more than a point a minute as they pushed out to a 42-0 lead.
Quinn was active in the first half, throwing a nice cut-out pass to help Karina Brown to her double before she ran onto a short ball in the 37th minute to pick up her own try.
It was her second four-pointer of the tournament, having also crossed in the opener against Cook Islands. She was please with how the opening 40 minute unfolded.
“We’ve just got to stick to our structures now and try and finish the game,” Quinn, who took nine carries in the opening half, said.
“We need to do all the little things right to keep the team together, we don’t want to get too carried away with ourselves, so just come out here in the second half and try and complete.”
Canada lifted after the break and managed to get on the board as Natasha Smith barged her way over from dummy-half.
However, the Jillaroos were always in control.
Foliaki, who has made 253 metres and 53 tackles in her three cup appearances, came close to setting up a try on the 57 minute mark.
She found space down the right wing – her fourth line break of the tournament – after fending away a rival, then sent the ball wide to Meg Ward. Unfortunately the winger was unable to hold on to the pass.
Moments later, following a Canada knock-on, Quinn nearly nabbed her second try of the match but was ruled to have been held up over the line.
But three tries followed as the Jillaroos closed out the match.
Donald will now work hard to prepare his players for the showdown with the Kiwi Ferns, a side which is lining up for its fifth consecutive World Cup final.
Like the Jillaroos, the Kiwi Ferns are undefeated in the tournament thus far and will be keen to avenge the 22-12 loss against the Australians in the 2013 decider.
“They’re a real strong side they carry the ball strong and they’ve got some depth in their team as well, so it’s gonna be one hell of game,” Donald said.