Mon, Oct 15, 10:39am by Staff Writer
New Zealand snared its first win against Australia in a Rugby League International since 2014 with a 26-24 win at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday night.
The Kiwis were the more determined of the two teams, despite going down early.
Winger Valentine Holmes was the shortest priced player to score the game’s first try and did so inside two minutes as the Kangaroos started ominously.
From there on it was all New Zealand, as the hosts peppered away at the line.
They earned multiple repeat sets before Ken Maumalo scored in the 27th minute.
Roosters premiership winning centre Joseph Manu crossed on his New Zealand debut to give them an 8-6 lead.
Dane Gagai scored just before half time to give Australia the lead once more in a see-sawing contest.
The Kiwis dominated the second half and it was another debutant who got on the score sheet.
Hooker Brandon Smith bustled over the goal line from close range in the 54th minute to give New Zealand a four-point lead.
Esan Marsters and Jordan Rapana scored two tries in the space of six minutes to put the result beyond doubt, as the Kiwis lead by 16 points.
Two late tries to Australia by Felise Kaufusi and James Tedesco gave the Kangaroos a glimmer of hope, but proved to be nothing more than window dressing for a poor performance.
A changing of the guard in terms of lineup for coach Mal Meninga has certainly left the veteran coach with plenty to ponder ahead of his sides match against Tonga this weekend.
Australia is a $1.30 favourite to beat the 2017 World Cup semi finalists, who are paying $3.55.
The Australian’s will need to do a better job at securing possession against Tonga, after having just 42 per cent of the ball against New Zealand.
The Kiwis had 46 more runs than Australia and made nearly 300 more run metres.
A lot of New Zealand’s work came inside the red zone and after they cracked Australia before the half hour mark, they had two other no try calls in the match that were contentious and could have gone their way.
Sean Johnson and Kodi Nikorima were superb in their kicking games, amassing 599 kick metres.
The Australian halves duo of Luke Keary and Daly Cherry-Evans were on debut and failed to fire.
Queensland hooker Ben Hunt came off the bench playing a backline utility role that didn’t quite gel with the rest of his team.
The Australian’s committed 11 errors to just five from New Zealand, despite the hosts being more flamboyant with the ball.
The expected forward pack grunt from the likes of Tyson Frizell and Jake Trbojevic never eventuated for Australia, as they were forced to defend for large portions of the game.
Meninga’s mantra of selecting the best State of Origin players by and large didn’t seem to work in this international and the familiarity in the playmaking positions was lacking.
New Zealand now embarks on a three Test tour of England where they face a Wayne Bennett coached side.
The English team is made up of a number of NRL players, although they will be without Sam Burgess through injury.
The English Super League Grand Final took place on Sunday morning (AEDST) with the Wigan Warriors sending outgoing coach Sean Wane off with a 12-4 win against Warrington at Old Trafford.
As all Super League finals games have been, the match was tight all the way through. After scoring the opening try, Warrington was held scoreless for 60 minutes.
Wigan triumphed against the Wire for the third time in a Grand Final this decade, extending the Wolves’ barren Grand Final run anther season. They have not won the Grand Final since 1955 and were defeated 20-14 by Catalans in this season’s challenge cup final.
NRL sides will resume pre season in November, with the Sydney Roosters the early 2019 Grand Final favourite at $5.
Wayne Bennett’s final season in Brisbane has his side a $7 chance of winning the competition, with 2018 beaten Grand Finalist’s Melbourne priced at $8.
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