League: Kiwis' self-inflicted injury

By Steve Deane

Kangaroos 20
Kiwis 10

The Kangaroos defence piles in to stop a charging Jeremy Smith during last night's Anzac test. Photo / Getty Images
The Kangaroos defence piles in to stop a charging Jeremy Smith during last night's Anzac test. Photo / Getty Images

Bad things are supposed to come in threes - but last night the Kiwis smashed through that barrier, coughing the ball up five times in a row to hand the Kangaroos yet another gift-wrapped Anzac Testvictory.

After the absorbing, cut-and thrust-nature of the first 60 minutes, the Kiwis' repeated incompetence was an unfortunate way for the match to be decided.

There was plenty to like about the Kiwis' efforts.

After the double blow of losing Sam Rapira on the first play and conceding a try inside two minutes, they matched the Australians shot for shot.

They defended stoutly, scored a fine try and created plenty of opportunities.

Then, with the game theirs for the taking, they cut their own throats.

All the damage was done in a shocking 10-minute spell when Issac Luke, Fuifui Moimoi and Jason Nightingale suffered a collective bout of the yips.

It meant a brilliant late try to Lance Hohaia went the way of so many other Kiwis tries in this contest - a meaningless consolation prize.

Australia's Anzac superiority remains unbroken, and doesn't look like ending any time soon.

Things started to go south for the Kiwis as early as the first hit-up, when Rapira left the field with a suspected broken thumb.

The pain on Rapira's face quickly became pain on the scoreboard, as Hohaia's fumbles returned to haunt him on the big stage.

The fullback misplayed a towering Darren Lockyer bomb under pressure from Jharal Yow Yee and Billy Slater was first on the scene to scoop up the loose ball and cross for the simplest of tries.

The Kiwis survived more pressure when Shaun Kenny-Dowall was tackled over the sideline after a Hohaia breakout, but they couldn't dodge the bullet a second time when another attempt to outflank the Kangaroos deep inside their own territory went awry.

Debutant Jamal Idris replaced the injured Greg Inglis and stretched the Kiwis down the left side with an incisive run, before the Kangaroos shifted the ball to the right and fellow first-timer Yow Yeh crossed for the try.

The Kiwis' opening try came against the run of play but that didn't make it any less brilliant.

Benji Marshall stripped Thurston in a one-on-one tackle and spread the ball left to Lewis Brown, who came into the squad in place of Greg Eastwood and on to the field at centre for Simon Mannering.

Brown's first touch was a fend on Sam Thaiday to get into the clear, his second was a perfect pass to send Matthew Duffie over for the second debut try of the match.

The Kiwis had the ascendancy, but their efforts were almost undone by an expansive effort right on the hooter.

Marshall's wild inside pass was seized upon by Lockyer, whose pass bounced kindly for the flying Idris. Only a desperate cover tackle from Mannering prevented the try.

The Kiwis enjoyed a good spell of pressure at the start of the second half but the closest they could come was Brown being held up over the line after a Kangaroos line drop out.

The Kangaroos came within inches of scoring a decisive try when Yow Yeh grounded a Lockyer grubber on the dead ball line after Luke had coughed up possession cheaply.

That proved to be the pattern for the next ten minutes, the Kiwis Houdini act ending when Bronson Harrison coughed the ball up and Slater returned it 60m for a try.

Idris then pounced as Nightingale added to the horrendous run of errors with a spill on his own 20m line.

AUSTRALIA

Tries: Billy Slater (2), Jharal Yow Yeh, Jamal Idris

Conversions: Johnathan Thurston

KIWIS

Tries: Lance Hohaia, Matthew Duffie

Conversions: Benji Marshall

- NZ Herald

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