THE New Zealand Ferns produced some brutal defence to clinch the best-of-three series 2-1 against the Australian Jillaroos as part of the Auckland Nines.
After taking a tight opening clash 8-4 on Saturday, the Jillaroos were looking to square the series on Sunday, but were bashed out of game two by some huge defence, including the tackle of the tournament by Laura Mariu on Australia's Vanessa Foliaki which sent tremors through the Eden Park grandstand.
After another close first half, the Ferns overpowered the Jillaroos with two more tries through centre Nora Maaka and fullback Sarina Fiso to win the return game 16-4, rendering the third clash a dead rubber.
Someone forgot to tell the players, however, with game three turning out to be the best.
A 0-0 half-time deadlock was broken by a Ferns try straight after the break for a 7-0 lead.
Not to be denied, Australia, which is coached by former Canterbury Bulldogs mentor Steve Folkes, rallied with a try to captain Stephanie Hancock before Brittany Breayley scored in the last minute for an 8-7 win.
The game also featured a massive tackle by Ferns defender Maitua Feterika on Sam Hammond which rivalled Mariu's second game bell-ringer.
Jillaroos player Ruan Sims, whose brothers Ashton, Tariq and Corbin all play in the NRL, said losing the series 2-1 was "most definitely not the result we were after".
"Unfortunately the ball didn't roll our way, and we didn't help ourselves," she said.