25 rounds, 192 games, #Origin on a Sunday, and a September Grand Final.
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A double from rookie fullback Dane Gagai has helped the Junior Kangaroos to a 24-16 win over the Junior Kiwis at Westpac Stadium, Wellington.
Giant centre Siuatonga Likiliki opened the scoring to give the Kiwis a 6-nil advantage after 20 minutes. But the Kangaroos hit back through Dane Gagai and Manly winger Michael Oldfield, who snatched a 95 metre intercept, giving his side a 10-6 lead at the break.
Some solid second half defence saw New Zealand hold Justin O'Neill up over the line but the Melbourne Storm centre refuse to say die when he burrowed over from dummy half a few sets later. Matthew Wright missed the conversion, leaving the scoreboard at 14-6 after 50 minutes.
Raiders flyer Drury Low got the Kiwis back in the contest when he scored from a cross field bomb but the Kangaroos responded with two quick hit backs.
First Gagai reached out in corner before hooker Cameron King snuck over from dummy half to put Australia ahead by fourteen points. New Zealand playmaker Shaun Johnson dotted down for a consolation try in the dying stages.
For the Kangaroos Brisbane Bronco Gagai was particularly dangerous from fullback, while North Queensland bound prop Tariq Sims' endurace at prop was also a feature.
The final game of the two match series takes place on October 30 in Rotorua as the precursor to the Four Nations clash between New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
New Zealand - 16
Tries: Siuatonga Likiliki, Drury Low, Shaun Johnson
Goals: Shaun Johnson 2
Australia - 24
Tries: Dane Gagai 2, Michael Oldfield, Justin O'Neill, Cameron King
Goals: Cameron King 2
Where: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Time: Saturday 23 October, 5:45pm (NZ)
Referee: Henry Perenara
Halftime 10-6 Australia
New Zealand: Glen Fisiiahi, Bill Tupou, Siuatonga Likiliki, Dean Whare, Drury Low, Carlos Tuimavave, Shaun Johnson, Lama Tasi, Matthew McIlwrick, Martin Taupau (c), Jason Taumalolo, Sam Mataora, Sebastine Ikahihifo.
Interchange (from): Nafe Seluini, Sam Lousi, Mark Ioane, Isaac Maliota, Paki Afu, Kane Morgan
Australia: Dane Gagai, Michael Oldfield, Justin O'Neill, Ben Jones (c), Josh Mansour, Corey Norman, Sam Williams, James Cunningham, Cameron King, Evrett Vaurasi, Mark Nicholls, Josh Jackson, Gerard Beale
Interchange (from): Matthew Wright, Tariq Sims, Mark Appleton, Kyle O'Donnell, Nathan Massey, Dominic Walsh