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The New Zealand Kiwis have run out 30-16 victors today in front of a packed North Harbour Stadium over a flat an unenthusiastic Australian Kangaroos outfit.
The Aussies started well and looked great after 13 minutes leading 10-nil following tries to Brett Kimmorley and Steve Simpson, at which point visions of this year?s Anzac Test came flooding back and threatening a repeat dose. This seemed to spark New Zealand into action however, with their forwards muscling up and taking to the Aussies.
They put on three tries to Vinnie Anderson, Henry Fa?afili and finally Clinton Toopi in a show-stopping intercept try with barging fends, deft handling and scintillating speed in what was a spectacular try. Leading 14-10 at the break, the Kiwis were looking good if they could maintain their composure.
The Aussie?s fired up early in the second half, posting a four-pointer through workhorse Shane Webcke before clocking off for the day and pretty much going home, and with the Kiwi?s running into a huge wind, most people thought it could be game over.
New Zealand had other ideas though?
After a quick response through man-of-the-match Toopi, he was at it again in what could be one of the best tries of the season, with a flowing attack that started deep inside the New Zealand territory. Several players had a hand in the try which saw Toopi again score to the left of the upright brushing a desperate Luke Ricketson tackle with ease.
Vinnie Anderson sealed the match in the 77th minute with a double on debut. Nigel Vagana also had a very strong game, as did Wiki, Galuvao and Puletua.
For the Aussies, Kimmorley looked good early on but faded slowly throughout the contest. Webcke played well as usual and so did Lockyer before he fell victim to injury. This signals Australia?s first loss in four years against the Kiwi?s and their first Test loss since 2001 against Great Britain. A contentious decision to play Kimmorley at half-back could be back on the agenda at the selection table, with inform half Craig Gower seeing little game time and having no real impact.
Leagueunlimited Player of the Year Awards
3 ? C Toopi (New Zealand) 2 ? N Vagana (New Zealand) 1 ? R Wiki (New Zealand)
Saturday 18 Oct 2003 5:30 PM Local 2:30 PM AEST North Harbour Stadium, Albany NZ Referee: Sean Hampstead Video Referee: Alan Caddy Scorers: NEW ZEALAND KIWIS Tries: Toopi 3, Anderson 2, Fa'afili Goals: Faumuina 3/6 defeated AUSTRALIA KANGAROOS Tries: Kimmorley, Simpson, Webcke Goals: Fitzgibbon 2/3
By the clock:
Faumuina to start at half-back with Leuluai back to the bench. Not the best rendition of Advance Australia Fair I've ever heard.
New Zealand kick-off and we're underway in the first half.
5 min: TRY - Australia. Kimmorley under the posts after backing up on the inside from a break made by Matt Sing down the left wing. Australia 4 New Zealand 0.
6 min: Fitzgibbon converts with ease to push the score out to 6-0 in favour of the Aussies.
13 min: TRY - Australia. Simpson scores after a tackle busting run down the right side from Lockyer, who flipped it back inside to the big second rower and no one was going to stop him from that range. Aussies in the lead by 10-0 with a kick to come.
14 min: Fitzgibbon misses a more difficult attempt and manages to slip over and make himself look like a goose. Visitors still up by 10-0.
17 min: NEWS - Villasanti comes on to a rousing reception from the NZ crowd. He becomes the first ever NZ-based player to represent Australia. Australia having about 2/3 of the possession at the moment.
20 min: TRY - New Zealand. Vinnie Anderson scores down the right flank on debut after an offload and some clever work by Betham. Australia 10 New Zealand 4.
22 min: Faumuina hits the post with his attempted conversion. Scores remain 10-4 in favour of the visitors.
28 min: TRY - New Zealand. Fa'afili scores in the corner, again down the right side. Kiwis starting to get a bit more possession and making a game of it. Australia 10 New Zealand 8.
29 min: Faumuina converts and levels the scores at 10-apiece.
37 min: TRY - New Zealand. And what a try it was! After placing huge pressure on the Kiwis line for the past few minutes, Lockyer throws a cut out pass to the left wing which is intercepted by Meli who goes about storming upfield with Sing in pursuit. Sing, who has Meli covered for pace, attempts a grab on him only to be shouldered away as the massive winger continues rampaging through the centre of the field. With the cover coming across, Meli finds Toopi on his outside and throws a great ball to his centre partner who goes in for a four pointer. Sensational stuff. New Zealand lead 14-10 and really look a chance at taking this game out if they can continue with their solid defence and enterprising attack.
39 min: Faumuina misses and the score remain 14-10 in favour of the home side. Kicking has been a real issue for both the Warriors and now the national side for some time now.
A great game here with plenty of big hits and great tries. I think New Zealand really snapped into gear and look good things for the second half providing they don't think they've already won it with a stellar first half. Australia should come out firing though, wih coach Chris Anderson likely to give them a rev-up during the interval.
And the Aussies resume the action in the second half through the kick-off.
53 min: TRY - Australia. Kimmorley grubbers through on the left side and after some scrappy play Shane Webcke manages to pinch his first four pointer in the green and gold. Scores locked at 14-all.
54 min: Fitzgibbon converts to put the Aussies back in front at 16-14.
67 min: TRY - New Zealand. Toopi crashes over for his second and the Kiwis are beginning to turn the screws at North Harbour Stadium. New Zealand 18 Australia 16.
69 min: Faumuina converts and the lead is extended to 20-16 in favour of the Kiwis.
70 min: TRY - New Zealand. Toopi scores his third after a field-long movement pushes to the goal mouth with some great work from Ruben Wiki. New Zealand 24 Australia 16.
71 min: Faumuina converts and they Kiwis lead 26-16 and are a good chance to end a four-year drought against the Aussies.
77 min: TRY - New Zealand. Vinnie Anderson gets a double and seals victory for the Kiwis with a stirring run, taking advantage of Lockyer being out of the line and injured in back-play. Kiwis 30 Aussies 16.
78 min: Faumuina fails with his attempt at goal, but the New Zealanders have this one well and truly wrapped up with 2 minutes to go and a 14-point lead.
A well deserved victory for the Kiwis sees them win the Centenary Test Match and claw back a large amount of respect following their systematic dismanting at the hands Aussies earlier in the year.