RUAN Sims produced a powerhouse performance to inspire the Jillaroos to a courageous 16-4 victory over the Kiwi Ferns.
Sims, the skipper and face of the Australian team, pulled off some huge hits as the home team dug deep to hold out a spirited New Zealand on a cool night in Canberra.
The Jillaroos led 12-4 at halftime, and had to withstand wave after wave of attacking raids on their tryline throughout the second half.
After losing the corresponding game last year, the Jillaroos will take plenty of confidence from the gutsy three-tries-to-one win looking ahead to the World Cup at the end of the year.
An emotional Sims, the sister of Korbin, Tariq and Ashton Sims, revealed after the game her simple goal had been to return to the Jillaroos after a string of recent surgeries.
PACIFIC TEST: Island teams are bands of brothers
“I just wanted to make it back into the team this year,’’ Sims said.
“I had a few surgeries the past six months, and to be back pulling on the boots is pretty amazing.
“This Anzac Medal means so much to me, it’s not just for me, it’s for the whole team, and everyone did their job out there today. It was an absolutely incredible effort.
“I was so proud of not just us, but the Kiwi Ferns. As I said earlier in the week, it’s always a torrid affair when Australia and New Zealand play each other, and today was a true showing of how fantastic women’s rugby league is, and it’s here to stay.
“Internationally, interstate and domestically, we’re here, we have a strong presence, and I’m so proud to be a woman who loves rugby league.’’
Central Coast-based Jillaroos fullback Isabelle Kelly opened the scoring in the tenth minute, only for the Kiwi Ferns to hit back through winger Atawhai Tupaea.
Classy playmaker Zahara Temara celebrated her debut with a try on the half-hour to give the Jillaroos a well-deserved 12-4 halftime lead.
Australia continued to dominate possession and field position early, and almost had more points when Simaina Taufu was held up by three defenders just metres from the line.
There would be no stopping Renae Kunst when she was able to slip through some tired defence to make it look like the Jillaroos night.
But the Kiwi Ferns were able to string together some sets and should have had a try to winger Lanulangi Veainu who spilt the ball with nobody in front of her.
Skipper Sarina Fiso drew two defenders to throw the final pass for Veainu who could only shake her head as she watched the replay.
They threw everything at the Jillaroos but could not break through for points.