New Zealand vs Australia: Anzac Test live scores, blog
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Australia's Billy Slater attacks for try during the Rugby League test match between Australia and New Zealand. AP Photo/Tertius Pickard
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New Zealand Vs. Australia
2012 New Zealand v Australia, 20 April, 2012
|Eden Park, Auckland|
|Australia 20 defeated New Zealand 12|
|Referee: R Silverwood|
|Touch judges: Aaron Kesha & J Younis|
Trans-Tasman hostilities resume tonight as New Zealand hosts Australia in the traditional Anzac Test at Eden Park. Join us for live scores and commentary from 6.15pm AEST.
The Kangaroos have dominated the mid-year Anzac Test fixture, with their last loss coming way back in 1998 when the match was staged in New Zealand.
14 years later and Australia once again have to travel across the Tasman to take on a Kiwi team boasting some fair talent.
The Kangaroos however continue to make do with the finest rugby league footballers on the planet, led by the awesome foursome of Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk, Johnathon Thurston and Cameron Smith.
Although former captain Darren Lockyer has retired, Australia should still be expected to gel in attack with the preceding players at their disposal.
New Zealand meanwhile comes into this match on the back of some poor form.
After winning the 2010 Four Nations title, the Kiwis failed to defend their title last year, losing comprehensively to England and Australia.
With a vocal Eden Park crowd to cheer them on however, there will be no excuses if New Zealand once again produce a below par showing against the Kangaroos tonight.
Australia possesses dangers across the park so New Zealand has to roll up its sleeves and win the forward battle at all costs.
Starting Kiwi props Sam McKendry and Ben Matulino will have to defy their recent form in the NRL and produce career best performances if they are to match Kangaroos big men Paul Gallen and David Shillington.
Gallen in particular is currently the best forward in the NRL so it will be interesting to see how Matulino and McKendry match up against the Sharks and NSW Origin captain.
New Zealand also have to keep errors to a minimum tonight, but this could prove to be a challenge given that second rowers such as Frank Pritchard and Adam Blair like to play their hand in attack.
Both Pritchard and Blair need to play the percentages well tonight and really pick the right moments to force the offloads against a clinical and well structured Kangaroos team.
If New Zealand can simply hang on to possession and complete their sets, it will go a long way to perhaps upsetting the reigning Four Nations champions.
A good performance by the Kiwi forwards will also allow creative players Benji Marshall, Shaun Johnson and Josh Hoffman to come to the fore.
The Kangaroos will have to keep an eye on Hoffman in particular. The Broncos fullback has certified himself as one of the most damaging kick returners in the NRL, so Smith and Thurston will do well to find open space whenever they kick the football.
While New Zealand certainly possesses the talent to trouble Australia tonight, the Kangaroos remain a class above due to their consistency.
The Kangaroos are known for their ability to play for the full eighty minutes while the Kiwis are known to play great football only in patches.
If Australia is allowed to start well early on, then it is no secret that backline superstars Justin Hodges, Greg Inglis, Darius Boyd and Slater will wreck havoc against the Kiwis.
Although the Kangaroos still possess the more balanced team, New Zealand at home should be competitive enough to make a game of this. Whether or not they spring the upset largely depends on whether they are willing to play tough rugby league for the full eighty minutes.
Kangaroos by 8.
Can the Kiwis spring an upset on home turf, or will it be another win for the Kangaroos? It’s international rugby league tonight from 6.15pm AEST and we’ll be covering all of the action with live scores and commentary throughout so if you’re watching, listening or following along, give us a shout in the space below.
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