Kiwis edged out in Townsville battle
Sunday 14 October 2012 6:52 AM
TEST MATCH RESULT
AUSTRALIAN KANGAROOS 18
(C Smith, J Tamou, D Boyd Tries; J Thurston 2/3 Goals; J Thurston 1/1 Penalty Goals)
NEW ZEALAND KIWIS 10
(I Luke, G Beale Tries; K Inu 1/2 Goals)
Crowd: 26,479 at Dairy Farmers Stadium.
The Australian Kangaroos have recorded a hard-fought 18-10 victory over the New Zealand Kiwis in Townsville on Saturday night.
The result was still very much up for grabs until a 72nd minute try to Darius Boyd sealed the result for the Kangaroos, who won both matches between the two nations in 2012.
Speaking after the match, Kangaroos five-eighth Johnathan Thurston praised his side’s determination to earn the victory.
“I thought the boys dug deep, the Kiwis threw a lot at us, and we were too good in the end, the boys did really well,” Thurston said. “It was a bit scrappy in the first half, but I think in the second half we controlled the ball a lot better, played it down their end and got the rewards.”
New Zealand captain Benji Marshall was disappointed with the final result, but hinted there was still plenty of improvement in his side headed into a World Cup year.
“We were in that game for most of it there, the way we turned up, our attitude was pretty solid,” Marshall said. “I feel like we’re moving in the right direction.”
The Kangaroos almost began the match in a magnificent fashion, with Cameron Smith’s 40/20 attempt in the first set of the game falling just short. Josh Hoffman did well to keep the ball in play, and a dropped ball from Tony Williams not long after allowed the Kiwis to go on the attack, with Sam Perrett going close down the right flank.
While unsuccessful on that occasion, they were the first to score through Issac Luke, who powered his way across the line with a burst from dummy half. Krisnan Inu added the extras, giving the New Zealand side a 6-0 advantage after eight minutes.
Both sides were displaying uncharacteristic poor handling early in the contest, with Paul Gallen and Jesse Bromwich trading errors as both teams worked their way into the contest.
The Kangaroos finally began to build some momentum in the 16th minute, but some determined tackling from Simon Mannering kept them at bay. The New Zealand defence was working wonderfully as the half wore on, but it seemed only a matter of time before the home nation would strike back.
They did so in the 24th minute, when captain Smith spotted a gap and darted past Kieran Foran, meaning both hookers had a try each for their side. Johnathan Thurston’s conversion attempt was unsuccessful, with the Kiwis maintaining a slender 6-4 advantage.
It appeared as if the New Zealand side would go into the break with the lead, but a wonderful pass from Cronk to James Tamou resulted in the third try of the match. The towering prop displayed good footwork to bustle his way over the line. Thurston added the extras, and the Kangaroos hit the front 10-6 with five minutes remaining in the half.
But the Kiwis weren’t about to head into the sheds without one final throw of the dice. Perrett showed tremendous athleticism, flying high to beat Billy Slater and collect a kick. The Kiwis then spread it wide to Gerard Beale who crossed unmarked in the left corner. Inu’s kick was waved away, leaving scores locked up at 10-all at halftime.
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New Zealand started the second period with plenty of purpose, and a scrum two minutes into the half gave them the perfect attacking opportunity. While they couldn’t score on that occasion, they earned repeat sets. But the Kangaroos’ defence was up to the task, containing everything the Kiwis were throwing at them.
Greg Eastwood created space for Luke in the 50th minute, with the hooker finding Elijah Taylor who in-turn slipped a pass to Hoffman, who knocked on. What followed had both sets of fans concerned, with Ryan Hoffman leaving the field with a leg injury, while Greg Inglis, Josh Morris and Luke all received attention from the trainers.
As the half wore on another break from Tamou got the Australians on the front foot, but they couldn’t break the deadlock on that occasion, with neither side able to unlock the opposition defence.
It appeared as though Thurston had scored the decisive try in the 59th minute, but Hoffman and Mannering did well to deny the illusive five-eighth. A contentious stripping penalty just moments later allowed Thurston to kick the Kangaroos two points clear, in front 12-10 headed into the final quarter of the game.
The Kangaroos then went on with it, as Gallen sprinted down the left edge before tossing a skillful flick pass to Boyd, who crossed under the posts. Thurston converted, giving the Australians an eight point advantage with nine minutes remaining.
Josh Morris was denied four points in the 75th minute, penalised for a double movement, but it would have no impact on the final result, with Australia running out victors 18-10.
Best for the Kangaroos were Cameron Smith, Paul Gallen, Matthew Scott and James Tamou, while Best for the Kiwis were Sam Kasiano, Issac Luke and Simon Mannering.
Australian Kangaroos: Ryan Hoffman (leg)
New Zealand Kiwis: No major injuries to report.
In the earlier match the Junior Kangaroos defeated the Junior Kiwis 48-16.
B Slater, D Boyd, G Inglis, J Morris, B Morris, J Thurston, C Cronk, M Scott, C Smith ©, J Tamou, G Bird, P Gallen, T Williams.
Bench: N Myles, R Farah, R Hoffman, D Shillington. Coach: T Sheens.
NEW ZEALAND KIWIS
J Hoffman, S Perrett, K Inu, D Whare, G Beale, B Marshall ©, K Foran, J Bromwich, I Luke, S Kasiano, F Pritchard, K Proctor, S Mannering.
Bench: E Taylor, B Matulino, G Eastwood, A Blair. Coach: S Kearney.