GRAND FINAL DAY LOCKED IN | Three big fixtures next Sunday at Sydney's ANZ Stadium! Burleigh and Ill...
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The New Zealand Residents rugby league team produced strength on defence and flair on attack to take Queensland Country right out of the game at Rotorua's International Stadium last night.
The opening round of the inaugural transtasman tournament saw the Kiwis accelerate out of the starting blocks, posting a point a minute for the first 20 minutes, before speeding to a 52-4 win over the visitors.
On a chilly winter night the Cane Toads were reptilian in nature and failed to get the blood pumping until the closing moves when prop Janes Baira crashed over with three minutes to go.
The Maroons threatened the Kiwi line at different stages during the game but were unable to deliver the ball safely over.
Conversely, the Kiwis put on a solid team effort with the forwards carrying the ball upfield and the backs crossing the line.
And while Residents captain Steve Buckingham was pleased with the win, he said there was still plenty to work on before Saturday's game against the Jim Beam Cup side from Sydney.
"We need to tighten up on our defence around the rucks but overall I think we all put our hands up for this game and it was a good team effort."
Buckingham was expecting more of a challenge from the Queenslanders and said the win was an excellent way to blood new players and build a positive platform. "There was plenty of pride and passion out there and this is a real boost," he said.
Playing at standoff, Buckingham was in fine form, booting eight goals, with just two kicks missing their target.
The New Zealand centre duo of David Fisi' iahi and Miguel Start had an outstanding game with both bagging a hat trick.
A Junior Kiwi last year, 18-year-old Miguel Start made a big impression in his first senior representative game.
His three tries came in the second stanza, with two of them in quick succession after the half time whistle blew.
"It was just the environment with the team eh ... I was just getting amped up and went out there to score."
But following the sublime start to his senior career the teenager is keeping his feet on the ground.
"I have to be consistent and prepare well this week and stick to the basics."
Other Kiwi try scorers were Sala Fa'alogo, Paletasala Ale and Tui Samoa.
Used to temperatures between 25C and 30C year round Queensland captain Philip Wuersching said while it wasn't an excuse, the cold Rotorua weather was taking some getting used to.
"We're starting to acclimatise but geez it's cold."
Wuersching said the New Zealanders were too big and strong, and were a well drilled side.
He was confident his side would bounce back for their next game as they had only trained three times together prior to last night's game. "We could have stood up to them a bit better but hopefully we will get another crack at them in the final."
In the other match NSW Country beat The Jim Beam cup, formerly the Metropolitan Cup- Sydney, by 28-10.
The second round of the competition kicks off on Saturday at 6pm with Queensland playing NSW Country followed by NZ Residents against Jim Beam Cup at 7.30pm.
SCORERS: NZ Residents 52, tries David Fisi'iahi x 3, Miguel Start x 3, Tui Samoa, Sala Fa'alogo, Paletasala Ale, goals Steve Buckingham x 8; Queensland Country 4, try, Janes Baira.