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A second-half five-minute period of madness has secured victory for Australia in the annual VB League Test over New Zealand, the Kangaroos 20-10 victors at Skilled Park tonight.
In what was Darren Lockyer's final test for Australia on Queensland soil, the Kangaroos were no sure things after taking a 10-6 halftime lead through tries to Jharal Yow Yeh and Billy Slater - while the Kiwis crossed before the break through debutant winger Matt Duffie.
The second half was a war of attrition with neither side troubling the scorers until the 69th minute, when a spilled Bronson Harrison ball found Ben Hannant. He offloaded quickly to a flying Billy Slater who took off from his own 20m line and scored untouched. Minutes later a frolicking Jamal Idris benefited from a Jason Nightingale error as he crashed over to score on debut for the Kangaroos. Thurston missed the conversion, but at 20-6 inside the final ten minutes, the hosts were home.
A late try to Lance Hohaia finished proceedings on a tense night for both sides, Australia finishing 20-10 winners. Worrying for Australia, South Sydney and the Maroons that Greg Inglis sustained what appears to be a thigh injury, while the Kiwis and Warriors have their own concerns over Sam Rapira who has reportedly broken his thumb. Bulldogs, Blues and Australian replacement centre Jamal Idris may also be facing a troublesome time with the Match Review panel after a suspect take-out of Nightingale in the air late in the match.
Australia 20 defeated New Zealand 10
International - Test Match - Friday May 6, 2011 8:00pm
Venue: Skilled Park
Referee: Richard Silverwood
Video Referee: Steve Clark and David Pakieto
Touch Judges: Steve Carrall and Daniel Caddy
Halftime: Australia 10 New Zealand 6
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Billy Slater (2 Tries)
2 Points - Jharal Yow Yeh (1 Try)
1 Point - Jamal Idris (1 Try)
Tries: Billy Slater (2), Jharal Yow Yeh, Jamal Idris
Conversions: Johnathan Thurston (2/4)
NEW ZEALAND (10)
Tries: Lance Hohaia, Matt Duffie
Conversions: Benji Marshall (1/2)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Sunskilled... no, Skilled Park is the venue for the annual VB League Test. Tonight, as every year, it's Australia v New Zealand. Originally scheduled for Christchurch, this match was forced to be moved to the Gold Coast after the February earthquake devastated the Christchurch CBD and rendered AMI Stadium unusable. The Titans, NZRL and ARL along with Jetstar have moved mountains to ensure plenty of Kiwi fans are on hand for this historic test.
Team changes: Australia are 1-17, despite doubt over Justin Hodges in the lead-up. New Zealand lose Greg Eastwood off their 5-man bench, with Lewis Brown in jersey 18 taking his place. Adam Blair is still a little niggly and could be a late exclusion.
A lap of honour for some of the heroes for the Christchurch earthquake, Queensland January floods and Cyclone Yasi recovery efforts. Teams on the field within 5 minutes and kickoff approximately 8:00pm.
Anthems of both nations complete, now we await the famous Haka from the New Zealand side.
1 min: A typically passionate haka led by Issac Luke and Benji Marshall, and now the men in green and gold kick us off through Cameron Smith! Here we go with Test Football!
2 min: INJURY early to Sam Rapira after taking the first hit-up, he's on the sideline. Australia working up the field - VIDEO REFEREE, possible TRY to Australia through Billy Slater inside two minutes...
3 min: TRY
Scored by Billy Slater. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful.
High ball forces the error from Hohaia, and Yow Yeh is ruled to have knocked back - Slater cleans up the loose ball. Try to Australia and converted by Thurston.
6 min: A few up-and-back sets from both sides to follow the Slater try. Ben Matulino is already on to replace Sam Rapira for the Kiwis.
8 min: INJURY: Sam Rapira has broken his thumb. Won't return tonight - NZ down to 16 players.
9 min: Inglis is limping around at the moment, Jamal Idris is warming up. Looks to be a few early casualties, this time for Australia. In play, Hohaia has to retrieve the ball from in-goal. Surrounded by three players, he trips the light fantastic inside the dead ball line, avoids the ball and gets out of the in-goal, spreads it wide to Shaun Kenny-Dowall... who is forced into touch just 20m from his own line. Kangaroos scrum.
11 min: Error from Sam Thaiday hands the Kiwis back the ball despite Australia having great field position.
14 min: Some worrying times there for Australia with a Kieran Foran bomb almost trapping the 'Roos in-goal. Inglis scoops it up and gets into the field of play, but the Kiwis had the hosts on the back foot there.
17 min: No change at Skilled, both teams challenging opposition lines. Greg Inglis is off the field. Jamal Idris is ON. Earlier tonight we can confirm the ARMY 52 defeated the NAVY 6 in the curtain raiser.
20 min: TRY
Scored by Jharal Yow Yeh. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston unsuccessful.
The numbers on the right are too much for the Kiwis to defend and the Aussies find Jharal Yow Yeh out wide who scores ON DEBUT! Thurston can't convert from the touchline so it stays ten-blot.
25 min: New Zealand are a rabble at the moment, being caught on last tackle. Australia are in great position but can't make anything of it, Thurston himself caught on last.
27 min: Australia are peppering the right side, with the Broncos combination. It breaks down due to Thaiday spilling the ball.
30 min: Possession stakes have evened out in the last few minutes but the Kiwis haven't made any headway on the scoreline.
33 min: New Zealand are inviting Australia to score more points but they can't seem to cross the whitewash. Slater tries to slot into the backline but drops it.
37 min: TRY
TRY New Zealand
Scored by Matt Duffie. Conversion attempt by Benji Marshall successful.
Benji Marshall is the spark for the Kiwis, stealing it off Thurston like a thief in the night. They spread it left to Nightingale who puts Brown through a gap and passes to Duffie to score ON DEBUT. It's a night for the debutants. Marshall from the sideline, converts.
40 min: It's some harlem globetrotters stuff on the hooter here, Kiwis try to force the issue and it lands in the hands of guess who? Darren Lockyer who almost streaks away but throws it to Idris who is taken into touch. Halftime.
41 min: Second half underway, Australia with first possession. Match evenly poised at Australia 10 Kiwis 6
44 min: INJURY: Greg Inglis will not return tonight. Jamal Idris will stay in the centres for the remainder of the game.
46 min: Australia forced to defend now... the Kiwis are hammering their line, but they're holding them out. A deft kick from Fien into the in-goal forces Thurston to run it dead.
51 min: The Kiwis are trapped in-goal this time. Australia on the attack.
55 min: Lewis Brown is held up over the line, so close to scoring a try. In the tackle it looks like Yow Yeh has copped an accidental hand to the nose from teammate Justin Hodges. Kiwis with the fifth tackle... Hohaia drops it and the pressure's off for Australia.
59 min: Sam McKendry back on for the Kiwis and he puts a nice shoulder on touch judge Daniel Caddy as he returns to the field. Issac Luke with a knock-on inside his own half. Australia on the attack...
61 min: Possible try to Jharal Yow Yeah... VIDEO REFEREE. Looks like a 20m restart to New Zealand... and it is. NO TRY, Kiwis 20m restart.
67 min: Cronk almost capitalises on another Kiwi error but Nightingale leaps high and is taken out by Idris. Penalty New Zealand.
69 min: TRY
Scored by Billy Slater. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful.
These errors by New Zealand have proven fatal. Harrison spills it right into the hands of Slater who sprints onto the ball and streaks away for a try, which should seal the game. Thurston puts swing on this conversion that Mitchell Johnson would be proud of, converting.
71 min: Possible try to Jamal Idris again, ON DEBUT, checking the grounding.
72 min: TRY
Scored by Jamal Idris. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston unsuccessful.
Same old song and dance, an error by New Zealand, this time by Nightingale. It's scooped up and offloaded to Idris who streamrolls three kiwis to score. Thurston tries to swing it in again but it hits the post.
73 min: Thurston puts it high, with Yow Yeh leaping for it but he knocks it on.
75 min: It's been an impressive debut for Yow Yeh, he runs the ball at pace and swats Thurston like a fly.
77 min: Pressure building from Australia, forcing a drop out. Idris almost goes close for his second but is swamped by three people. Australia shift it wide to Hodges who tries to go himself and touches the whitewash.
79 min: Game has degenerated here, with both sides spilling it.
80 min: TRY
TRY New Zealand
Scored by Lance Hohaia. Conversion attempt by Benji Marshall unsuccessful.
Last points go to the Kiwis. Kieran Foran shows magnificent hands to scoop the ball, throws the dummy and kicks in field. Hohaia wins the race and dives over. Marshall with the consolation conversion, misses.