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Marshall conjures Four Nations miracle
An amazing long range try in the 79th minute has seen New Zealand steal a breathtaking 16-12 win over Australia in the Four Nations final at Suncorp Stadium in front of nearly 37,000 supporters.
In scenes reminiscent of their 2008 World Cup triumph at the same venue, New Zealand posted two late tries within the final ten minutes to once again stun the Kangaroos.
Two pieces of Benji Marshall brilliance were the difference - the Kiwis trailed 12-6 before the mercurial five-eighth provided the grubber for a Nightingale try in the 71st minute. He then created an overlap for centre Shaun Kenny-Dowall which culminated in the match winner to Nathan Fien under the posts.
However, the result was shrouded in refereeing controversy, winger Brett Morris stepped on the sideline in the play before Australia's first try, while an obvious forward pass was missed in the Kiwi's opening four-pointer.
Australia lost not only the game but were forced to battle in the second half without Panther Luke Lewis and Brent Tate, who tragically broke down into tears in the sheds at the break. The centre suffered a knee problem and must undergo what might prove to be a career-ending knee reconstruction.
The first half was a largely dour affair - the home side opened the scoring early through Tate but failed to convert pressure into points and New Zealand posted an equaliser when Marshall sent Kenny-Dowall through a hole just before the break.
The second stanza saw a lift in intensity and pace and Australia regained the lead 12-6 thanks to a Billy Slater try in the 58th minute.
A tiring New Zealand outfit looked to have run their race but a number of undisciplined penalties from the Kangaroos paved the way for Nightingale's four-pointer. Marshall had the chance to level the scores but his kick bounced off the upright.
But fortunately it didn't prove costly with the 79th minute miracle securing a memorable victory in a thrilling finish to the season.
Australia 12 were defeated by New Zealand 16
International - Four Nations Final - Saturday November 13, 2010 8:15pm
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Referee: Tony Archer (AU)
Video Referee: Russell Smith (AU) and D Pakieto (NZ Observer)
Touch Judges: James Child (ENG) and Paul Holland (AU)
Halftime: Australia 6 New Zealand 6
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Greg Eastwood
2 Points - Benji Marshall (2 Conversions)
1 Point - Matthew Scott
Tries: Billy Slater, Brent Tate
Conversions: Cameron Smith (2/2)
New Zealand (16)
Tries: Nathan Fien, Jason Nightingale, Shaun Kenny-Dowall
Conversions: Benji Marshall (2/3)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Welcome to Suncorp Stadium for the Four Nations decider, which is the final fixture on the 2010 rugby league calendar. It also shapes as the finale for Darren Lockyer - tonight is likely to be the great man's final Test on home soil.
Australia were too good for New Zealand last weekend but rest assured the Kiwis will primed to bounce back tonight. The Kangaroos could be a touch complacent and, of course, this is the venue where the visitors upset the favourites in the 2008 World Cup final.
It promises to be a cracker! Join me just after 8:00pm ADST (7:00pm Queensland time) for live updates as it happens.
My tip? I'm going out on a limb and backing New Zealand by 4, with brother Benji getting Man of the Match.
New Zealand have some team changes tonight.. Junior Sau is out with injury meaning Simon Mannering moves to centre. Ben Matulino starts in the second row, Sika Manu is the new man on the bench. Also, Eastwood and McKendry have done a switcheroo.
It looks like a shorter haka for the Kiwis this evening, good to see they're saving some of their energy for the footy.
1 min: Australia kick off!
1 min: Youngster Sam McKendry is smashed in the first run of the game by the Queensland duo of Scott and Shillington.
2 min: The Kangaroos get a penalty and get a chance inside the opposition's half.
3 min: TRY
Darren Lockyer drifts down the short side and puts in a grubber, Kiwi fullback Lance Hohaia makes an absolute meal of the pick up and Brent Tate flies through to score his 16th career try. Cam Smith converts from the sideline.
5 min: Replays showing Brett Morris had a foot on the sideline in the play prior to the try..
8 min: New Zealand with their first opportunity to press the Australian line but a poor cross field kick sails over the sideline.
9 min: Cooper Cronk shows the Kiwis how to kick, with a beaut 40/20 - Australia looking professional.
10 min: Cronks grubbers in the ingoal but the Kangaroos had an overlap there, New Zealand let off the hook slightly.
12 min: Australia find space on the fringes but Slater's pass can't find the mark and he gets hammered off the ball by Hohaia for good measure.
15 min: New Zealand going side to side in attack, they need to play them up the centre.
16 min: Sam McKendry is hit hard by Matt Scott again, he must be sick of him by now and as I type both players leave the field.
18 min: Simon Mannering is flipped upside down by Tate, was a tough few minutes for Mannering, he was hit high in the set before.
22 min: Luke Lewis nearly breaks through but is cut down and is in some trouble with what looks like an ankle injury - he appears to be in quite a bit of pain and won't be back tonight.
24 min: Mistakes now from both sides and there's a bit of niggle starting to creep in - funnily enough, it coincides with Greg Bird taking the field.
27 min: Tom Learoyd-Lahrs is hammered by Jeremy Smith, it was an odd tackle, the point of contact was with his thigh.
29 min: Lote Tuqiri drops a bomb and New Zealand are on the attack, momentum shifting against the home side.
30 min: Apologies to Kiwi fans for jinxing them, Nuuausala drops it cold on the second tackle.
33 min: An error from Paul Gallen on halfway, Australia are prime for the picking here if New Zealand cna play with a bit of speed.
35 min: Greg Eastwood charges down a Lockyer clearing kick but takes an age to pick up the ball.
36 min: Simon Mannering goes with inches of scoring! Great goal line defence.
36 min: TRY
New Zealand TRY
Benji Marshall holds up a pass before sending Shaun Kenny-Dowall through a gap for a four-pointer. The pass was definitely forward though but tit-for-tat I guess considering Morris was out before the Kangaroos scored their first. Marshall converts.
39 min: Benji with a huge clearing kick, quite obviously searching for the deadball line to wind down the clock.
40 min: Punch up on halftime! The Kiwis grubbered after the siren, it was picked up by Slater who ambled to the defence and was dealt with harshly. Too harshly according to the Aussies, who came in pushing and shoving before Shillington and Blair unleashed punches.
Halftime: Great first half with a bit of everything. The Australians haven't clicked into gear and when New Zealand play with speed and footwork they look dangerous. Plus a bit of aggro just to spice things up.
Halfime: Distressing scenes at the break of Brent Tate breaking down in tears - he looked devastated, hope everything's all ok.
The news is a serious injury to Tate - he will need another knee reconstruction.
41 min: New Zealand kick off in the second half, Australia to battle on without Lewis and Tate.
43 min: Cameron Smith is flipped around, landing on his head but Australia regroup and force a drop out.
46 min: Still recovering from the news and scenes of Brent Tate at the break, as New Zealand fumble in Australia's half.
47 min: Sammy Perrett flies high with both hands to diffuse a bomb, perhaps the AFL threw their money at the wrong winger.
48 min: Benji breaks through on the last tackle but kicks over the sideline - he's starting to warm up though Marshall.
51 min: The games beginning to open up, with both defensive lines looking tired, as Hohaia darts away from defenders.
52 min: Issac Luke sneaks through but wayward passing on the last results in the ball being booting dead.
53 min: Cooper Cronk chips for himself but Hohaia sticks out a hand and rakes it in just in time.
54 min: This is being played at break neck speed at the moment. Brilliant!
56 min: Issac Luke has been benched by Kearney, crazy move after just 15 minutes with Australia looking fatigued.
58 min: TRY
New Zealand give away a penalty to put Australia on the attack and they strike a big blow through Billy Slater off a Greg Bird step and pass. Someone had to crack, the speed of the game in second half has been insane. Smith converts.
62 min: Shaun Kenny-Dowall makes an error and New Zealand's body language is decreasing in confidence by the second.
64 min: Australia throw everything at the New Zealand line in two sets in succession but they hold on.
65 min: More push and shove, Greg Bird pushes Jeremy Smith unnecessarily off the ball and then Smith reacts. Two of the nicer blokes in league colliding there, and New Zealand get the penalty.
67 min: Greg Eastwood goes for a stupid pass and drops it on the first tackle of a set on the Aussie line.
69 min: A horror bounce sees Slater pinned ingoal, this is the Kiwis time to strike.
71 min: Video referee - possible New Zealand try..
71 min: TRY
New Zealand TRY
Benji Marshall drifts across field, draws up the defence and then slides a grubber behind the line. Jason Nightingale dives on the ball but Marshall's conversion hits the post! Still enough time for the Kiwis though.
73 min: Marshall chips but Slater is Johnny on the spot and steals possession.
75 min: New Zealand looking dead tired, they'll need a miracle to get out of this and as I type Slater drops an uncontested bomb! NZ with the scrum 10 metres out 10 in front.
76 min: Australia hold the Kiwis out and a poor fifth tackle option from New Zealand hands the ball over easily.
78 min: Two and a half minutes to go, with 90m to travel for New Zealand.
79 min: Possible New Zealand try! video referee to decide...
79 min: TRY
New Zealand TRY
THAT IS A MIRACLE! The Kiwis run the ball on the last before Kenny-Dowall sends Nightingale away down the flank, he tiptoes along the sideline before flinging it inside to Marshall who gets tackled but gets it out the back to Nathan Fien. WOW! Marshall converts and I don't know how they pulled that off!
New Zealand 16-12
Fulltime: The Kiwis have done it again at Suncorp Stadium in amazing circumstances!! Incredible stuff in the final minute to score and what a way to finish the season, great to watch.