Early Australian Penalties
Giving away cheap field position is not in the blueprint to beat Australia, and New Zealand were guilty of this in the opening 10 minutes. Kevin Proctor gave away a holding down penalty late in the tackle count, before Shaun Johnson did the same off the ensuing set, gifting the Kangaroos a chance to attack, and they took that opportunity with both hands. A quick play the ball from Aaron Woods had the Kiwis on the back foot, before Johnathan Thurston and Michael Morgan combined to create an overlap for Blake Ferguson to open the scoring in the right corner. The try gave the Australians plenty of confidence, as Morgan, Ferguson and Thurston combined for another try down the same side just four minutes later.
Inglis Ankle Tap
Jordan Rapana snatched a Darius Boyd pass that gave the Kiwis a big opportunity to go on the counter-attack. Rapana only got as far as the halfway line, as Greg Inglis was hot in pursuit for the entire run, and he lunged forward to ankle tap Rapana that stopped him in his tracks. The chance was not over, however, as New Zealand had numbers stacked on the left side of the field, and the ball only had to be shifted from sideline to sideline to give themselves a certain try scoring opportunity. The pass by Shaun Kenny-Dowall from dummy half was slightly off the mark, and Johnson was not able to catch the ball. The dejection on the crafty halfback’s face was obvious, as a big chance had just gone to waste.
Blair Try-Saving Double
Down by 10 points in the early stages of the match, New Zealand could not afford to concede another try before half time. Australia had plenty of attacking opportunities, and the scrambling defence of Adam Blair denied the two closest efforts. Thurston showed wonderful vision to allow Justin O’Neill an opportunity, but he was pulled down by Blair just centimetres short of the line. Then, in the dying stages of the opening half, a rampaging David Klemmer forced his way over the try-line, only to be held up by none other than Adam Blair. Jordan Kahu also deserves a mention as he played a part in both tackles, but the wonderful defence led by Blair restricted Australia to a 10-0 lead at half-time.
Tohu Harris Penalty
Solomone Kata got New Zealand back into the game with a powerful try at left centre, which made the score 10-4. Australia found themselves on the attack shortly afterwards, and Matt Gillett ran a simple hit-up late in the tackle count right in front of the posts. In an attempt to slow the play the ball down, Tohu Harris held onto Gillett for too long, resulting in Ben Cummins blowing a penalty in front of the posts, which allowed Thurston to nudge the margin to eight with a penalty goal. The Kiwis were well and truly in the game, but ill discipline certainly cost them any chance at victory.
This game was arguably the best game Blake Ferguson has played in his whole career, let alone at representative level. As mentioned earlier, he scored the opening try, and set up Thurston for the second, and he constantly posed a threat to the New Zealand defence. While Australia were under pressure, Johnson put in a grubber kick which was cleaned up by Ferguson, and he beat a massive six players to get back into the field of play, and tip-toed the sideline in the process. The frustrated New Zealand side gave away a penalty in the ruck, which got the Australians out of trouble, thanks to Ferguson.
Boyd And Inglis Deny Johnson Trifecta
There are some things that only Shaun Johnson can pull off, like a perfect chip and chase to set up Rapana for one of the best tries in Four Nations history. That try got them back in the game, reducing the margin to just six points. He then forced a dropout with a perfect kick off the ensuing set, giving the Kiwis one last chance to attack in the dying seconds of the game. Then, Johnson, like only Johnson could, weaved his way through various Australian defenders to get over the line and potentially score the try that takes the game into golden point. Unfortunately for Johnson, Boyd and Inglis were there to hold him up, which secured a 14-8 victory for the Australians.