Kiwis overcome
critics to down Kangaroos in Tri-Nations opener

Tri-Nations Game I Australia 28 v New Zealand 38 Match summary: New Zealand has overcome their many critics by beating Australia 38-22 at Telstra Stadium tonight in front of 28,255 spectators at Telstra Stadium. After the Kiwis lead 18-0 early, the Kangaroos charged back to lock the scoreboard up at 18-all at halftime.

The visitors opened the scoring in just the eighth minute following a great offload from Stacey Jones on the inside to Clinton Toopi who hit the hole at blinding speed. The Kiwis were in again as they broke down the right hand side and Clinton Toopi finished the play, getting the Kiwis away to a 12-0 lead after 10 minutes.

Some errors started to creep into the Kiwis game and it gave the home side an opportunity for points. Ben Kennedy went close after 16 minutes before he was denied by the video referee for having dropped the ball before the line. New Zealand took full advantage and from a dropped kick by Matt King, Brent Webb scored from the scrum win to stretch the lead to 18-0 after 18 minutes.

The comeback seemed even harder for the home side as winger Timana Tahu was ruled out for the rest of the game with a hamstring injury.

At the 30 minute mark the Australian resurgence began, led by halfback Andrew Johns. Centre Brent Tate scored one of the tries of the year when his kick-return went from the 10 metre line to all the way to the try line. This looked to be a definite turning point as three more Aussie tries were scored in seven minutes.

The halftime score was 18-all but New Zealand were definitely happy for half time to come as the home side had all the momentum.

Shortly after halftime winger Matt King pounced on a dropped bomb by debutant Manu Vatuvei to put Australia in front for the first time. While in front, Australia had many opportunities to put the game beyond reach but too much drop ball gave the Kiwis some hope and they took it with open arms.

The visitors dominated the next stage of the game. Tries to Jason Cayless and Nigel Vagana put the game beyond reach. The final try to Toopi sealed the game, a treat to the many New Zealand faithful who crossed the Tasman for the encounter.

For Australia Andrew Johns almost stole the game from New Zealand but it was the Kiwi forward pack that were all class tonight as they stunned Australia and proved their critics wrong in a 12 try scoring frenzy, outright winners 38-28.

Scorers: AUSTRALIA KANGAROOS 28 Tries: Tate 2, Gasnier 2, Johns, King Goals: Fitzgibbon 1/4, Johns 1/2

NEW ZEALAND KIWIS 38 Tries: Toopi 3, Webb, Cayless, Vagana Goals: Jones 7/7

Venue: Telstra Stadium Crowd: 28,255 Referee: Steve Ganson Half time: 18-all

Live commentary:

We are only moments away from kickoff in the first installment of the Tri-Nations of 2005.If New Zealand are to win tonight they must dominate in the forwards minimising ball and space for Lockyer and Johns.Due to the lack of quality in the Kiwi halves, a rampant Australia forward pack could lead to a demoralising loss for the visitors. Both sides are as per the program.

Both teams are on the field with the national anthems being performed.

0 min: Steve Ganson blows time on!

7 min: NEWS All the possession has been with Australia inside the 20 of New Zealand. However the Kiwis hang on and on the back of a penalty are on the attack

8 min: TRY-Kiwis Stacey Jones runs the ball inside the Kangaroos 20 then gives a beautiful offload on the inside to Clinton Toopi who scores under the posts. Jones converts.6-0 Kiwis.

9 min: TRY-Kiwis The Kangaroos right hand side defence is left vacant and the Kiwis exploit it. Toopi makes a break then dummys on the outside to score in the corner.Australian winger Timana Tahu has gone off with a hamstring injury. Jones conversion is a ripper from the sideline.12-0 Kiwis.

16 min: NEWS-Video Referee We are going upstairs to see whether Australian lock Ben Kennedy has correctly grounded the ball.

16 min: NEWS-NO TRY Ben Kennedy is ruled to have lost the ball while trying to ground it before the line.Kiwis 12-0.

18 min: TRY-Kiwis Brent Webb puts a kick through on the halfway line and Matt King knocks on with no-one within a country mile.In the next play from the scrum Brent Webb gets outside his marker to score next to the posts. Jones converts.Kiwis 18-0.

25 min: NEWS Tahu will not be back tonight from his hamstring injury.In the meantime the Kiwis make a big break down field before Webster is tackled short of the line when it seems Waterhouse came from an offside position. Kiwis 18-0.

30 min: TRY-Kangaroos Brent Tate has gone 90 metres from a kick return to get Australia back in the game after fending off 5 New Zealand players. Fitzgibbon's conversion is unsuccessful.Kiwis 18-4

32 min: NEWS The kickoff from Pritchard has sailed out on the full.

33 min: TRY-Kangaroos In the next set of six Andrew Johns has run the ball from 5 metres out and is to strong for the New Zealand defence. Fitzgibbon converts from next to the posts.Kiwis 18-10

37 min: NEWS-Video Referee Going up to see whether centre Mark Gasnier has gotten the ball down inside the corner posts.

37 min: TRY-Kangaroos The video referee rules that Mark Gasnier has stayed inside the field of play. Conversion unsuccessful from the sideline.Kiwis 18-14

39 min: TRY-Kangaroos A break from Minichiello in centre field goes through 5 sets of hands before it finishes up 2 metres from the line.On the next play Johns basketballs a pass from dummy half and Tate scores in the corner.An incredible comeback by the Aussies with 4 tries in 9 minutes.In the meantime Lance Hohaia is down with what looks like a serious leg injury. Fitzgibbon's conversion shaves the upright but is unsuccessful.18-18

40 min: NEWS With only seconds on the clock Andrew Johns puts a chip kick in inside his own half.Some amazing razzle dazzle football on halftime but the last pass is knocked on by captain Lockyer.A try goes begging. 18-18

Halftime: A try scoring frenzy here at Telstra Stadium with the Kiwis leading 18-0 after 18 minutes but Australia stormed back into the contest scoring 4 tries in 9 minutes.The kiwis will be very happy that halftime has come because if they were still playing, with all the momentum Australia has it could well have turned nasty.

41 min: Frank Pritchard gets us underway in the second half.

45 min: ON REPORT Frank Pritchard and Nigel Vagana are on report for a lifting tackle on Trent Waterhouse.

47 min: VIDEO REFEREE Going up stairs to see whether Matt King has grounded the ball or not.

47 min: TRY-Kangaroos A high kick by Australia is dropped by Vatuvei who drops it cold and Matt King pounce on it to score. Johns conversion is unsuccessful.Kangaroos 22-18.

55 min: NEWS The game has now turned scrappy with no team looking dangerous.New Zealand are still in the contest but only thanks to poor handling from Australia.

57 min: TRY-Kiwis Veteran Nathan Cayless crashes over after some creative offloads from the New Zealand backline to lock the ball game up with a kick to come. Stacey Jones puts the Kiwis back in front.Kiwis 24-22.

68th min: TRY-Kiwis Nigel Vagana, off a quick play the ball catches the markers out and after breaking through, with no-one at home has a free run to the tryline to make it hard for Australia to come back from here. Jones converts.

70 min: PENALTY GOAL-Kiwis A break from Brent Webb and a second tackle from Andrew Ryan results in a penalty to New Zealand.Ryan is very lucky not to be in the sin bin. Stacey Jones slots the 2 points.Kiwis 32-22.

74 min: TRY-Kangaroos Some Gasnier brilliance from halfway.He steps his oppossing number and sprints away to score out wide.What a finish we're in for! Johns conversion is a ripper.Kiwis 32-28.

76 min: NEWS From the kick off Kennedy knocks on the play the ball and the Kiwis are yet again on the attack to seal it.

76 min: VIDEO REFEREE Going upstairs to see whether Kiwi centre Clinton Toopi has taken the corner post while trying to score his 3rd try.

78 min: TRY-Kiwis Clinton Toopi has been given the green light by the video referee to seal the game for the black and whites. Jones from the sideline is in off the posts.Kiwis 38-28.

Fulltime: The Kiwis have stunned the critics tonight by overcoming a hot looking Australian side.The Kiwis led 18-0 very early before a determined fightback by Australia saw the scoreline at halftime reading 18all.The Kangaroos scored early but the Kiwis were the better side tonight and thoroughly deserved victory. ----------------------------------------- players of the match: 3 - Stacey Jones (New Zealand) 2 - Andrew Johns (Australia) 1 - Ruben Wiki (New Zealand) -----------------------------------------