MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 28: Leianne Tufuga of New Zealand celebrates scoring a try during the women's Pacific Championship match between Australia Jillaroos and New Zealand Kiwi Ferns at AAMI Park on October 28, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

In a surprising turn of events at the Pacific Championships in Melbourne, the Australian Jillaroos were handed a 12-6 defeat by the New Zealand Ferns, ending their seven-year winning streak against their trans-Tasman rivals.

The Jillaroos had been unbeaten in their past 14 matches against the Ferns, but with only seven minutes left on the clock, rookie Ferns winger Lieanne Tufuga scored a critical try to break a 6-6 deadlock and secure the win for New Zealand.

The match had been closely contested throughout and the Ferns capitalised on a late opportunity to seize victory.

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With no Women's final in the Pacific Championships, both teams will incredibly finish level on both wins and points-differential after the Jillaroos claimed the first-round matchup 16-10.

The Jillaroos had their fair share of opportunities in the game but fell short due to only managing a completion rate of 53%. Errors proved to be costly and allowed the Ferns to capitalise and secure their first win against the Jillaroos in several years.

While the loss was a shock for the Jillaroos, it underscores the growing competitiveness and parity in Women's rugby league, particularly in the trans-Tasman rivalry.