THE Jillaroos have continued a three-year run of dominance over New Zealand in the Test arena, a late try to Illawarra golden girl Kezie Apps sealing a 28-8 victory at WIN Stadium.
It was a case of third time lucky in a tense second half that saw Corrimal product Keeley Davis held up over the line and Tiana Penitani spill the ball with the line wide open.
Either four-pointer would've iced the game, but Apps made no mistake pouncing on a well-placed grubber from Kirra Dib to plant the match-winner with 13 minutes left.
It's pretty brave to kick first tackle of a scrum but these guys just said 'yep we can do that
Shakiah Tungai continued the part for the locals, toeing ahead another well-placed kick from Dibb to score her first Test try in the 75th minute and finishing with a personal tally of 12 points on debut.
"I'm really proud of them, right from the time we came into camp I've never felt so much confidence in a team," coach Brad Donald said.
"It just shows in both teams, the respect for the game and the will to win just showed why that game was quality. The scoreboard doesn't indicate how close that game was.
"We were stepping up from 60 minutes at NRLW to 80 minutes but I had full faith in the players we picked, they were picked for a reason.
"They're young and enthusiastic and they back themselves. It's pretty brave to kick first tackle of a scrum but these guys just said 'yep we can do that'.
"It just shows how much belief and confidence they have and I'm really, really happy to see them get that result."
The late tries were two of three tries off the boot of Dibb, who also laid on Jess Sergis' 31st minute four-pointer that saw the Jillaroos take an 18-0 lead.
The Ferns made a game of it with tries to Maitua Feterika and Honey Hireme either side of halftime but failed to capitalise on a glut of possession early in the first half.
The Jillaroos absorbed the mountain of early pressure and struck first through interchange forward Tallisha Harden, who crossed off a short-ball from Brigginshaw .
Tungai's conversion attempt was waved away, keeping the margin at 4-0 after 20 minutes. They extended the lead through a penalty try to Brigginshaw four minutes later, with the bunker ruling Ferns fullback Appii Nicholls lashed out illegally with her foot as the Aussie skipper looked to regather her own kick.
Tungai nailed the extras from in front for a 10-0 lead. It swelled to 16 when Sergis swooped on a golden bounce of Kirra Dibb kick to score under the posts.
Tungai converted again for a 16-0 lead. It was short-lived, with the Jillaroos letting the ensuing kickoff run dead. Maitua Feterika barged over from close range three plays later and cutting the margin back to 12.
Tungai had the final say of the opening stanza, grabbing a penalty goal on the stroke of halftime for a 14-point cushion at the break.
Hireme crossed out wide five minutes into the second stanza. Raecene McGregor went close minutes later only to be remarkably held-up by a desperate Hannah Southwell.
The Ferns did the same at the other end, preventing Davis from grounding the ball when she carried three defenders into the in-goal.
Penitani crossed off a pass deemed forward from Sergis and spilled the ball with the line wide open before Apps grabbed the winner.