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Kiwis pip Kangaroos 26-24 in Test thriller

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Roar Guru
13th October, 2018
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3347 Reads

The Kiwis have caused a massive boilover, stunning the fast-finishing Kangaroos 26-24 at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday night.

Australia lost Luke Keary early in the first half (concussion) and new halves partners Daly Cherry-Evans and Ben Hunt failed to take control as the New Zealanders held on for a tight victory.

Despite having almost 70% of the ball in the first half, the Kiwis found themselves trailing 12-8 at the break after struggling to break through Australia’s resilient defence.

It didn’t even look like a contest in the opening stages after the Kangaroos broke through for a far too simple try in the third minute to Valentine Holmes.

Yet seven first-half errors gifted New Zealand 27 play the balls in Australia’s 20-metre zone. Despite their sloppiness with the ball in hand, the Kangaroos continued to stand up in defence and turn Michael Maguire’s men away.

Ken Maumalo soared over in the 18th minute and claimed what would have been an incredible aerial effort, only for the Bunker to rule that he grounded the ball on the line.

The Kiwis eventually capitalised in the 26th minute when Maumalo went over off the back of a brilliant tunnel ball from Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.

Soon after Joseph Manu stormed over out wide and extended his side’s lead to two points.

In his first game as skipper, Watene-Zelezniak was highly impressive and looked to have claimed a try of his own in the 38th minute when he stormed onto a Manu kick.

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Yet the Bunker would deny the fullback after it was ruled that Manu fumbled the ball in the lead-up to the try.

And it would prove costly after the Kangaroos raced away to score off the following set when Tom Trbojevic sprinted down the right touchline and linked back inside with Dane Gagai.

The Kiwis didn’t roll over though and forced their way back into the contest in the 53rd minute when Brandon Smith barged over out of dummy-half.

And they extended their lead eight minutes later when Esan Marsters crossed over after a side-stepping Shaun Johnson created an overlap on the left edge.

Saturday night’s game was a changing of the guard for both sides, with Australia looking to claim victory without recently retired representative players Billy Slater, Jonathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith.

The Kiwis were also without Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Issac Luke, alongside Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Simon Mannering.

But it appeared as if the home side were handling the change better, pretty much sealing the victory in the 67th minute after Jordan Rapana dived over in the corner.

Two late tries to Felise Kaufusi and James Tedesco saw the New Zealand faithful dealt a grandstand finish, but the Kiwis would hang on in the end to claim a 26-24 upset victory.

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