SUNDAY SPECIALS | Two tight tussles for NRL Sunday - Melbourne Storm and Canberra Raiders flexing th...
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The ARL Junior Kangaroos have tonight won their opening tour match against the Junior Kiwis at Westpac Stadium in Wellington, running out 24-16 winners.
With this fixture having been off the calendar for a number of years and the Kiwis having had the best of the matches that were played prior to that, a new generation of Kangaroo put their hand up this evening and restored some pride in the Junior Kangaroo jersey.
It was a fierce opening exchange to the match with both sets of forwards trading blows early on until it appeared that Broncos young gun, Dane Gagai had opened the scoring for the Aussies in the 8th minute only for the video referee to deny the Australian.
And then despite dominating in most facets of the match for the first 20 minutes it was the home side who struck the first blow on the scoreboard courtesy of a trademark Siuatonga Likiliki try.
But the first real blow of the night for either side came in the 25th minute when the Kiwis Sea Eagles centre, Dean Whare had to leave the game with what looked like a serious leg injury, and this effectively left the Kiwis a man down for the remainder of the contest.
Then in the 31st minute Gagai was able to score the try he had been denied earlier when he chimed onto a perfect ball by Raiders playmaker, Sam Williams, and with the conversion successful it was 6-6 heading towards halftime.
And just when it appeared that would be our score line at the main break the Kiwis received a welcomed penalty and from the ensuing set a sweeping backline movement created a three on one overlap out wide but the final pass intended for Bill Tupou was snatched out of the air by Michael Oldfield who then ran 95m the other way to hand the Aussies a well deserved 10-6 lead at halftime.
The first try in the second half was always going to be vital and it appeared to go to Australia courtesy of a Justin O'Neill try, but once again the video referee was called upon by Henry Perenara and like the first time the Aussies were denied as it was ruled to have been held up.
But O'Neill didn't have to wait long to redeem himself as just some four minutes later he struggled through several tacklers close to the line and managed to ground the ball right on the chalk.
The next 15 minutes or so presented few opportunities to either team but then in the 63rd minute Drury Low accepted a gift four pointer out wide courtesy of a pin point Shaun Johnson kick and with just 14 minutes to play we had a grandstand finish with the Aussies clinging on to a 14-10 lead.
However tries in the next ten minutes to Gagai and the Dragons, Cameron King ensured it would indeed be the Kangaroos that would be singing the team song in the dressing rooms after the match.
Junior Kangaroos coach, David Hamilton was full of praise for his young team.