New Zealand have gone 1-0 up in their two-test series against Australia after a 31-11 victory against their trans-Tasman rivals in Sydney on Saturday.

Playing in their first test since lifting the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2017, the Black Ferns scored five tries, including a hat-trick for captain and hooker Fiao'o Faamausili, in front of 28,842 spectators – a world record crowd for a women’s international.

Both sides traded blows in the opening exchanges and it took 10 mins for the first points to be scored with scrum-half Kendra Cocksedge crossing for New Zealand’s first try to give the visitors a 7-0 lead.

Emily Robinson pulled three points back for Australia from the kicking tee but the first of Faamausili’s tries and one from Aldora Itunu advanced the score to 19-3 at the break.

The second half saw New Zealand continue to dominate and two further tries to Faamausili, both from driven lineouts, ended any hopes Australia had of a maiden victory against the Black Ferns.

At least the Wallaroos had the final say when replacement Alisha Hewitt came off the bench to score after good work in the build-up from Shanice Parker and Emily Chancellor, for a final scoreline of 31-11 to the visitors.

Improved second half

With a host of debutants in the respective starting line-ups, it obviously took time for both sides to find any rhythm and they will be all the better for the run out going into next Saturday’s return test in Auckland.

"We tried to flick some 50-50 offloads where we would have been best to carry. Once we started carrying, particularly off 10 directly at the middle when they were rushing out at us, we looked a lot better and we had some second man plays and we started using them in the second half which got us really out on the edge,” said Black Ferns coach Glenn Moore.

"I'm confident we'll get polished this week, we definitely needed that game."

Moore’s opposite number Dwayne Nestor was pleased with how the Wallaroos fought to the bitter end.

 “We didn’t let the game go and there will be a lot of positives that come out of the game,” he said. “We’ll go back and look at the footage and pick out the good things as well as those things that we can fix, it all about getting into the right attitude for next week.

“I’m really positive about where we are as a side. There are changes we can easily make in order to have a much better game and we will come back a much stronger side next week.”

The outcome of the match did not affect the World Rugby Women’s Rankings with New Zealand staying top, unchanged on 95.66 points, and Australia just under 17 points further behind them in sixth.