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Systematic Australia deny willing New Zealand
Australia have had the class when required to record a 20-12 win over New Zealand in the 123rd meeting of the sides at Eden Park in front of 35,399 fans.
From the opening kick-off, you could sense it would be a close contest and the side's didn't disappoint with Cooper Cronk chipping his opening two kicks to Uate with the winger narrowly missing both.
New Zealand had the early running, attacking with their forwards, laying the platform for Isaac Luke to crash over under the posts. Benji Marshall would throw over the conersion and it was 6-0 New Zealand early in the piece.
Australia didn't waiver though, they kept attacking somewhat thanks to some New Zealand errors.
First it was through the Melbourne connection of Smith and Slater then Inglis almost crossing in the corner.
It was a heads up play by Johnathan Thurston on the last which got their opening try when on last tackle, the five eighth ducked and weaved passed the Kiwi defense to score then level proceedings with his conversion.
One the machine clicked, it was hard to stop. Thurston combined with Darius Boyd in the second man play to send their Queensland compatriot Greg Inglis over the corner and in the blink of an eye it was 12-6 to Australia.
When Nathan Fien came on though, momentum swung towards New Zealand combined with a few penalties. They produced a near miss which saw Billy Slater sin binned for a professional foul.
This came to naught though, as Australia added a penalty, making it 14-6 at halftime.
The home side needed a spark early to kick start their half and it came in the form of the debutant, Shaun Johnson who sniffed out an intercept from an errant Cronk pass to Hodges. He scored untouched and New Zealand were back within two after Marshall's conversion.
Whoever made the next mistake was going to pay, after a near miss when Marshall kicked out on the full. Australia took their lead back out to eight when Cameron Smith showed why he's the captain when he caught a rebound on last and struggled over to touchdown.
The Kiwis would mount a valiant attempt at a comeback with several attacking sets at the Australian line but it was in vain, as Australia held on to run out 20 points to 12 winners in the 123rd trans tasman contest.
New Zealand 12 were defeated by Australia 20
National Rugby League - 2012 Rep Weekend - Friday April 20, 2012 6:15pm
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Referee: Richard Silverwood
Video Referee: David Pakieto and Russell Smith
Touch Judges: Aaron Kesha and Jeff Younis
Halftime: New Zealand 6 Australia 14
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Johnathan Thurston (1 Try, 3 Conversions, 1 Penalty Goal)
2 Points - Cameron Smith (1 Try)
1 Point - Shaun Johnson (1 Try)
New Zealand (12)
Tries: Isaac Luke, Shaun Johnson
Conversions: Benji Marshall (2/2)
Tries: Greg Inglis, Johnathan Thurston, Cameron Smith
Conversions: Johnathan Thurston (3/3)
Penalty Goals: Johnathan Thurston (1/1)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary 1 min: We're underway here in New Zealand!
2 min: Inventive opening from Cooper Cronk who chips for Akuila Uate but he's wrapped up.
3 min: Shillington is returning the ball but clashes heads and loses it. Big chance for NZ.
4 min: Reprieve for the Aussies, as Vatuvei knocks on.
7 min: Cronk launches one high for Hoffman to try and judge but he takes it well, earning the penalty.
9 min: Just sloppy work on last there from Australia, they are just standing in the way of the backs trying to take the ball. Penalty this time for Nightingale.
11 min: Excellent charges by the kiwi forwards with Matulino going close. On last, Marshall tries to spread it wide but it's knocked down by Jonathan Thurston. Six more for NZ.
12 min: TRY
New Zealand stick to the same formula, two big charges by Pritchard and McKendry gets them close. It allowed Luke to dart from dummy half and open the scoring here. Marshall from in front, converts.
New Zealand 6-0
15 min: The Aussies are on the attack, thanks to the Storm connection of Cronk and Smith. Unfortunately Lewis spoils things with an intercept to Shaun Kenny-Dowall.
16 min: The Aussie's get another chance thanks to a Kiwi error. Gallen gets things rolling with an offload while struggling which almost sends Inglis over in the corner but he fumbles it, as he was going to pass to Boyd.
20 min: Quick darts by Hannant and Hodges, find the kiwis struggling and they have a second effort on Hodges, drawing the penalty.
23 min: TRY
The big shift gets New Zealand. There was a massive shift to Uate who goes close. Next, Hannant comes up millimetres short. Last Smith gives it to Thurston, who steps over the line to score. Thurston from in front, converts.
27 min: TRY
The Aussies have teased it a few times but they've executed it to perfection. Thurston gets to Boyd who gets outside his man, finds Inglis who dives over. Thurston converts.
29 min: New Zealand will have a chance to answer the Aussies with a penalty.
Going upstairs for a possible TRY, maybe even a penalty try cause one of the kiwi attackers was taken out.
32 min: NO TRY! but there is still drama with Billy Slater being sin binned. It will also be a penalty to NZ.
33 min: New Zealand decide against the penalty goal. Johnson tries to hit the leading runner but Mannering overruns the ball. Pressure off for Australia for now.
38 min: Huge chance for New Zealand here.. or not. It's been ruled a penalty, for interference in the ruck. Australia will kick out of their own half.
39 min: Back to back penalties against the kiwis. Australia opt for the penalty goal shot.
40 min: PENALTY GOAL
From right in front of the posts, Thurston smashes it through to add two more points. HALFTIME.
Both teams heading back out for the second half of the ANZAC test!
41 min: Thurston puts boot to ball and here we go again!
41 min: Penalty to open the second half for NZ, holding on too long.
42 min: Johnson crabs across the attacking line, looking for an option. He finds Marshall who shifts it again to Nightingale who is just handled with care over the sideline.
44 min: Powerful run at the line from Vatuvei but he goes down right after. Meanwhile, Slater is back on the field.
45 min: Whenever New Zealand get anything rolling it is curtailed by something else. This time, Nathan Fien kicking out on the full.
46 min: High tackle on Hannant, draws the ire of the referee and the whistle. Penalty.
48 min: TRY
Cronk tries to get to Hodges but it's intercepted by Shaun Johnson who is streaking away, no one will catch him and New Zealand are back in the game. Marshall converts from mid range.
49 min: The crowd have come alive with that try and this charge by Vatuvei. He's rewarded with the charge with a penalty, as Thaiday strips it out.
50 min: Full of running now NZ. They put it through about ten sets of hands on last but it has a tame end, with Boyd easily handling a Marshall grubber.
54 min: Aussies have the Kiwis pinned after a good defensive set. They undo the effort though, with laying on the tackle too long.
55 min: Nice leap by Uate, he evades two defenders but is grappled around the head, drawing the penalty.
We're going upstairs, checking if the pass inside was held and if he scored.
56 min: NO TRY! Cronk with the spread, to the right this time.. He finds Hodges in space, he eyes the corner but Hoffman with a great cover tackle forces him to pass to Uate who spills it. Scrum NZ.
61 min: Both teams are playing for field position and looking for the other, to make the error.
62 min: That might be the mistake Australia wanted. Marshall knew it as soon as he kicked it, out on the full.
63 min: A bit of luck there for NZ, there was a knock on in that jump for the ball.
66 min: Expansive football now by NZ finds Nightingale in space but he's wrangled in 10 metres out. NZ though seem to not have any structure, with a knock on by Bromwich.
68 min: Dave Taylor is becoming such a handful in these late stages but he's spilled it back. Blair knocks on. Australia scrum.
Checking if Cameron Smith has got the ball down on last.
71 min: TRY
TRY! Smith thinks on his feet as the last tackle option rebounds to him, he struggles and touches down. Valiant defensive effort from NZ though. Thurston from mid range, converts.
73 min: Last tackle kick lands right on the line and Vatuvei goes up but he's taken in the air. Penalty.
74 min: Gone upstairs to check if Boyd was taken out of the contest.
74 min: Nope.. it'll be a dropout. Kiwis on the attack.
75 min: Johnson on last bombs it to Vatuvei who bats it back to Cronk who is bundled into touch. More pressure coming here.
77 min: Marshall tries to spread it wide to Nightingale but it's a shocker, so he soccers it through. Slater gathers and gets into the field of play plus earning a penalty.
78 min: Eight point lead and Thurston just sends it ingoal, forcing Hoffman to die with the ball. Another dropout.
79 min: Gallen keeps fighting in the tackle, trying to offload but he knocks on.
80 min: Marshall then Johnson both take it to the line but the latter has spilled it. Scrum and that should be the end of the game, with the final rucks coming up.