The annual ANZAC Test between Australia and New Zealand hits the Capital in Canberra, with a heavily favoured Kangaroos team looking to keep their impressive Anzac record going. The Kangaroos have won 15 of the 17 tests all up, and the likes of Cameron Smith and Darius Boyd enter the game in hot form for their respective clubs. The Kiwis will enter underdogs as they always do, but boast an impressive side led by the halves pairing of Shaun Johnson and Kieran Foran, and the in-form Jordan Rapana.
Last Time Out:
The Four Nations in 2016 concluded with Australia taking on New Zealand at the historic Anfield ground in Liverpool, with the Australian side favoured to beat down their younger brothers. Australia beat New Zealand 14-8 in the first match up, a close battle in finishing 14-8 in Coventry where the Kiwis had a chance to steal a win with a late try to Jordan Kahu, only to merely rattle the Kangaroos.
The Kangaroos started the match fast with three tries in the first 21 minutes, to take an 18-0 lead. The Kiwis had a chance to hit back straight after Blake Ferguson’s early 3rd minute try, but carless ball play from Shaun Johnson gave possession right back. Australia had a 24-0 lead by the break, and with 64 percent of possession, had complete control of the game with the Kiwis being inexistent. The scores stretched out to 28-0 with a Valentine Holmes try with 36 minutes still to go. The Kiwis finally cracked the scoreboard with a nice set play that put Jordan Kahu in the corner, a disappointing 58 minutes since kick off. Kahu would run over again with some good footwork, and bring the scores back to 28-8. Come 74 minutes, consistent pressure gifted Australia another try through Boyd Cordner and soft defence saw him cross the line with relative ease. Australia ran away with a predictable win 34-8, defeating the Kiwis to restore some sort of order in the Rugby League hierarchy.
Australia overall completed a near perfect campaign where they blew all other teams off the park, finishing with a drubbing of the Kiwis. Dave Kidwell’s first tournament in charge did not go to plan, and raised serious questions over his future as the Kiwis coach. Kearney managed to bring the team a fair amount of success in his 8 years of coaching, and what had been laid out for the team with three straight victories over the Aussies, no trouble should have come at improving on that. Kidwell just needed to bring the players together and have them connect, but unfortunately from the get go that seemed to fail for him.
The battles on the field will be huge, each position filled with pure class and champion players. The halves, the fullbacks, the hookers, the front rowers, everyone is primed to take down their counter-part.
What seems to be the best match up is Cameron Smith and Issac Luke, who are the key components to running the ball and setting up the attacking players, and both will be the keys for their sides. Cameron Smith will play his 50th test, joining a select group of Australian representatives and adding to an already impressive catalogue of Rugby League success. Smith has once again showed us that age does not matter, having a terrific 2017 campaign with the Melbourne Storm so far as they sit top of the table after 9 rounds. Smith’s great ball play and leadership will once again be on display for his country.
Issac Luke is important for a different reason, where Kidwell has gone with trust over form at his position. Ever since moving to the Warriors, Luke has failed to spark the side and needs to kick into gear somehow. Luke’s running metres have slowly dropped since arriving at the Warriors, and after sitting around 100 metres per game, he is sitting at roughly 65 in 2017. A big time clash like this can surely be the motivator, and Luke’s ball running and defence by the ruck are a must for the Kiwis to get a sniff.
Kidwell’s time as the Kiwis coach will come to an end in the near future, possibly even in question after this game. His ability to simply coach the side seems absent, and in that darkness the Australian side is pouncing. The Kangaroos boast a more slim side than they would be used to with Inglis and Scott injured, as well as Thurston arguably not being 100%. Depth is their weapon though and once again the Kiwis will struggle to succeed against their old foes. Kangaroos by 10
Kangaroos: 1 Darius Boyd 2 Valentine Holmes 3 Will Chambers 4 Josh Dugan 5 Blake Ferguson 6 Johnathan Thurston 7 Cooper Cronk 8 Andrew Fifita 9 Cameron Smith 10 David Klemmer 11 Boyd Cordner 12 Matt Gillett 13 Trent Merrin Interchange: 14 Michael Morgan 15 Jake Trbojevic 16 Tyson Frizell 17 Sam Thaiday 18 Jordan McLean 19 James Maloney 20 Justin O’Neill
Kiwis: 1 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 2 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 3 Jordan Kahu 4 Dean Whare 5 Jordan Rapana 6 Kieran Foran 7 Shaun Johnson 8 Jesse Bromwich 9 Issac Luke 10 Russell Packer 11 Kevin Proctor 12 Simon Mannering 13 Jason Taumalolo Interchange: 14 Adam Blair 15 Martin Taupau 16 Kenny Bromwich 17 Kodi Nikorima 18 Elijah Taylor 19 David Fusitua