The world champion Black Ferns of New Zealand were given a stern test by the Wallaroos of Australia before triumphing 22-16 to take the two-test series 2-0 in Canberra.
The second test at Viking Park in Australia's capital was far more competitive than Tuesday's 37-3 win but the Kiwis successfully withstood the Australian onslaught to record their 10th consecutive win over their trans-Tasman rivals.
The Black Ferns led 8-3 at half time after left wing Carla Hohepa's try gave them the edge but Wallaroo number 8 Debby Hodgkinson's converted try in the opening minute of the second half catapulted the Australians into a 10-8 lead.
Home celebrations were short-lived, however, as first centre Huriana Manuel and then hooker Fiao’o Fa’amausili crossed for the visitors. Although Alana Thomas notched two penalties for Australia, they were not enough.
The Wallaroos were unable to secure a first win against NZ but coach Steve Hamson was delighted with the performance and the closest ever margin of victory between the two sides.
“We turned up tonight which was good,” he said. “I asked them to work on a few things for this game and they did, so you can’t question the effort or the commitment.
“On Tuesday night we probably played for half an hour. In this one we were in there for the whole 80 minutes.
“As I said to the girls later, they were playing the world champions, not some mugs from up the road, and it was a marked improvement from the first Test.
“I guess where it hurts is that we got so close and if you’re close enough you’re good enough.
“We just couldn’t quite get it over the line, but we have shown over the past two seasons that we are closing the gap on the Black Ferns.”