Jillaroos edge NZ to claim narrow RLWC win

Australia coach Brad Donald has praised his side's resilience after they ground out a hard-fought 10-8 win over New Zealand to complete their Rugby League World Cup pool fixtures.

The victory, in front of 3370 fans at York's LNER Community Stadium, ensures Australia finish undefeated on top of Group B to set up a semi-final meeting with Papua New Guinea.

New Zealand will meet tournament hosts England and could feel disappointed not to have walked away with a victory.

This was the Jillaroos' first real test of the tournament after breezing through their first two pool games with victories over France and the Cook Islands by a combined scoreline of 166-0.

The Kiwi Ferns, though, were a different proposition and the difference proved to be Australia's goalkicking on a windy night as they maintained a six-year winning streak against New Zealand.

"That was a really tough game but in terms of defence a 10-8 scoreline shows what these ladies are capable of," Donald said.

"I said to the girls at halftime, 'Hey, this is what we were after'.

"You can't go into every game and expect to win easily and win a World Cup.

"You could watch the resilience (after) the drop in confidence with a few errors but I was really happy with how they bounced back."

For the first time in this competition, Australia conceded and also went down on the scoreboard.

Five-eighth Tarryn Aiken had given the Jillaroos the lead with Ali Brigginshaw converting after an enthralling opening 20 minutes.

Wrecking ball New Zealand back-rower Amber Hall caused Australia endless problems and was named player of the match, finishing with 10 tackle busts from 12 carries.

"(Hall) has been around for a while and has been one of the best players in the world," Kiwi Ferns coach Ricky Henry said.

"I'm just pleased she's on our team, she's done some great stuff for us."

New Zealand kept fighting and scored either side of halftime courtesy of tries to Apii Nicholls and Autumn-Rain Stephens-Daly to hit the front.

Stephens-Daly's try came on the back of a one-on-one strip from Australian fullback Sam Bremner as she returned the ball.

Brianna Clark was unable to convert either effort and when Australia winger Julia Robinson scored a try in the 62nd minute the Jillaroos were able to cling on.

"It gives us a chance to work on our defence and showed that we probably have some work to do on our attack," Donald said.

"We've normally played them (next-round opponents PNG) annually and we'll be looking forward to them. It'll be tough.

"We had a hit-out tonight in the forward pack and there'll be another one in four nights' time."


Australia v Papua New Guinea, York, Tuesday 4am (AEDT)

New Zealand v England, York, Tuesday, 6.30am (AEDT)