Australia v New Zealand Highlights
30th October 2011
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Australia held off a spirited second-half fightback from gallant holders New Zealand to make a winning start to the Gillette Four Nations Series at a chilly Warrington.
The Kangaroos, fresh from a 42-6 rout of the Kiwis in Newcastle a fortnight ago, looked set for another runaway victory when they led 16-0 at half-time but they were rocked by two tries in eight minutes early in the second half.
And, although winger Darius Boyd’s 64th-minute try effectively settled the opening game in Australia’s favour, it was the Kiwis who earned the rapturous applause of a 12,491 near-capacity crowd for their adventurous attacking play as they bravely chased the game.
The Aussies made the brighter start and took the lead before their opponents had handled the ball.
Aided by a soft penalty, the Kangaroos got deep into New Zealand territory and the defence opened up invitingly for prop Matt Scott to take Cameron Smith’s pass from 10 metres out and crash over for his first Test try.
Johnathan Thurston’s goal made it 6-0 and it was five minutes before the Kiwis got their first touch of the ball.
When they eventually got a foothold in the game, the Kiwis received the encouragement of the partisan crowd at the Halliwell Jones Stadium but it was not enough to enable them to crack a superb Kangaroos defence.
The game was still in the balance until Australia struck with two tries in a nine-minute spell towards the end of the first half.
Winger Jason Nightingale became the latest player to fumble a high kick and, as Australia maintained the pressure, replacement forward Tony Williams fended off Benji Marshall and took him and two other defenders over the line with him for a second try.
Williams was in the thick of the action eight minutes later when Thurston put him into a hole and was on hand to take a return pass and stretch out of the tackle of Simon Mannering to touch down.
Trailing 16-0, New Zealand threw caution to the wind in the second half and it paid off as the Warrington crowd came to life.
Nightingale was at the heart of the fightback, breaking clear to present full-back Kevin Locke with a tryscoring chance but he was unable to take the difficult final pass.
Moments later, however, Kieran Foran’s high kick eluded both Chris Lawrence (Australia) and Gerard Beale (New Zealand) and Nightingale dived on the loose ball to score his side’s first try.
Marshall’s conversion made it 16-6 and the gap was down to just four points on 55 minutes when the Kiwis struck again.
Beale this time managed to cleanly palm the ball back from Foran’s kick and Mannering combined with Nightingale and Beale to keep the ball alive and get winger Kaifa Faifai Loa over for his first Test try.
Australia winger Akuila Uate could have settled matters when he reached the line but the Kiwis scrambled to prevent him grounding the ball.
It only delayed the inevitable, though, for half-backs Darren Lockyer and Thurston worked the ball out for winger Darius Boyd to finish clinically for the Kangaroos’ fourth try and Thurston kicked his third goal.
There might have been another twist had Locke managed to somehow keep the ball in play with the aid of a miraculous somersault but slow-motion replays showed a foot on the dead-ball line.
And Uate put the seal on Australia’s victory by winning the race to Billy Slater’s kick to the line to claim his third try in just two appearances.