The New Zealand Kiwis edge out the Australia Kangaroos 26-24 at Mt Smart Stadium in a gutsy test match.
A great start to the match was held by the Kangaroos scoring through Latrell Mitchell setting up Valentine Holmes who scored untouched for 6-0 just three minutes in. Strong carries by the Kiwi backs allowed their side to mount huge pressure in Australias own 20 metres, multiple sets followed until Ken Maumalo dived for a four-pointer in the 28th minute at 6-4. Halftime was closing, until the last play on a short side Daly Cherry-Evans ran to link with Tom Trbojevic who sprinted away linking with winger Dane Gagai inside him to score at 12-8 at the end of the first half.
The second period started well for the Aussies who produced forced dropouts via their playmakers, but errors let them down to allow the Kiwis to march down to score through Brandom Smith with them now in front 14-12. Fleet-footed Shaun Johnson created an overlap for the left side attack to allow Esan Marsters to slide over, just minutes later Joesph Manu laid the ball up for Jordan Rapana to boost scores 24-12. Kangaroos were not done with determination allowed them to find two more tries but eventually ran out of time with the home team winning 26-24.
KIWI’S UPSTAGE KANGAROOS
A professional victory by the Kiwis broke the Kangaroos down to have them now confident leading into more international rugby league. Kiwi skipper Dallin Watene-Zeleziniak led from the back for the first time being nearly best on the ground to inspire and lead his side to a two-point win. It was perseverance by their forwards and individual brilliance of their backline which faulted the Aussies gallant defence, defeating them in Auckland for the first time in 15 years.
WORK IN PROGRESS
The fear now will be to change things around for the Australian side, however, this will not be needed as the Kangaroos had some distributions losing five-eighth Luke Keary mid-game while also a lot of new combinations taking place. The key will be towards the impact that the green and gold side possess with a lack of punch through the middle which resulted in the Kiwi big men to dictate terms allowing their backs to be fresh for most of the match.
ROOKIES MAKE STATEMENT
The experience of many players was what brought out the best of the entire cast of rookies for their countries in this test match. Manu and Smith for New Zealand were able to get tries to their debuts while being a huge influence in troubling the Kangaroos side to no end and being the difference. James Tedesco and Mitchell were also able to find the line with impressive games that will not go unnoticed.
REFRESHING NEW ERA
This test match now has shown how impressive the new crop of players coming into the representative scene in just their first games. The challenge will be consistency for these young players to hold their spots as well as being motivated to get better. All debutants and younger players in this fixture are showing how refreshing it is to see the best younger talent of this season flow into the international scene providing great moments already.
Tries: Maumalo, Manu, Smith, Marsters, Rapana
Goals: Johnson 3/5
Tries: Holmes, Gagai, Kaufusi, Tedesco
Goals: Holmes 4/4
Kiwis: 1. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (c), 2. Ken Maumalo, 3. Esan Marsters, 4. Joseph Manu, 5. Jordan Rapana, 6. Shaun Johnson, 7. Kodi Nikorima, 8. Jesse Bromwich, 9. Brandon Smith, 10. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, 11. Kevin Proctor, 12. Isaac Liu, 13. James Fisher-Harris
Interchange: 14. Kenny Bromwich, 15. Leeson Ah Mau, 16. Martin Taupau, 17. Adam Blair
Kangaroos: 1. James Tedesco, 2. Dane Gagai, 3. Latrell Mitchell, 4. Tom Trbojevic, 5. Valentine Holmes, 6. Luke Keary, 7. Daly Cherry-Evans (vc), 8. David Klemmer, 9. Damien Cook, 10. Jordan McLean, 11. Boyd Cordner (c), 12. Felise Kaufusi, 13. Josh McGuire
Interchange: 14. Ben Hunt, 15. Jake Trbojevic, 16. Tyson Frizell, 17. Aaron Woods