The Wallaroos have pulled off their best win in memory, belting women’s rugby heavyweights France 29-20 in a mighty WXV boilover.
Eva Karpani powered Australia with an unlikely hat-trick in Dunedin on Saturday, supported by Georgina Friedrich’s first-half try and five-eighth Carys Dallinger’s superb performance as playmaker.
The win is just Australia’s second over France in their history, with no form line suggesting a victory was on the cards.
In the WXV1 opener last week, Australia were thumped by England 42-7, while France inflicted world champions New Zealand’s first loss in three years.
However, Jay Tregonning’s side flew out the gates and kept up their intensity to stun the established order.
Tight-head prop Karpani – who had just one Test try to her name before Saturday – started the Wallaroos charge in the third minute, cashing in after Layne Morgan rode a ferocious tackle.
Emilie Bouchard finished a counter-attacking move for France after 14 minutes, with Morgane Bourgeois’ conversion tying the scores at 7-7.
Unlike their meeting with the Red Roses, Australia were able to hold onto possession for long spells, with Freidrich sidestepping her way to the team’s second try after 10 phases.
Leading 12-10 at halftime, the Wallaroos didn’t look back, with Karpani breaking through after another spell of long pressure totalling 22 phases.
After a superb line-out drive, Karpani executed a pick and drive to secure her hat-trick, with Arabella McKenzie’s conversion blowing out the margin to 29-10.
Elisa Riffonneau and Gabrielle Vernier scored late tries but there was never a chance of a French comeback win.
“It’s feels absolutely amazing … I’m so proud of us,” Karpani said, before accidentally swearing in a broadcast interview, calling it a “f—ing team effort” before catching herself.
The Wallaroos celebrated wildly for minutes after the final whistle, showing the magnitude of their triumph.
It is the first time they’ve beaten a side ranked in the world’s top three, and just the second time Australia has bested France after a 2010 win.
WXV is a new competition organised by World Rugby to ensure the game’s best nations play more often, with the top six nations competing in the WXV1 tier.
Australia’s upset means England’s clash with New Zealand next Saturday in Auckland – a replay of last year’s epic World Cup final – will decide the inaugural tournament.