By Stephen Gallagher
New Zealand Kiwis 26 Australia Kangaroos 12
Well…… This was just fantastic, wasn’t it? No, fantastic isn’t the right word…….Incredible.
It was a first half that the country could watch on repeat. 26 points to 6. It was an effort on attack that was started by beast winger Manu Vatuvei scoring a great try off a slick backline move from a scrum.
Then it was another Vatuvei try eight minutes later, followed by a Shaun Johnson solo effort close to the line.
It was with ten seconds left in the first half that really made me stand up and say “wow”.
A hearty chase by Shaun Kenny-Dowall (who in my opinion was the best on the field, and should have been crowned Man of the Match) which pressured stand in fullback Greg Inglis as he failed to put the ball dead, sitting up a dream for him to pounce on it.
The attack was great, but the defence was even better. There were plenty of phenomenal efforts on their own line to hold the Kangaroos to only one try in the second half. That’s what meant the most to the fans – seeing them defend their line like never before.
The Australians lacked direction, but I think that came down to the Kiwis throwing everything at them.
They unsettled the Kangaroos, and Cronk and Thurston couldn’t recover. Thaiday was their main man all game, but even he couldn’t turn the tides back in favour of green and gold.
The Kiwis, on the verge of being the best team in the world pending their tour at the end of the season against England.
For Australia, their one and only test match in 2015 ended in a brutal loss – perhaps next year their schedule will be busier? Reputation can only win you so many games.
Junior Kangaroos 22 Junior Kiwis 20
This was a very physical tussle. The Junior Kangaroos won the game, which I believe went down to a freak bounce of the ball right on half time from a chip and chase by Sharks gun Valentine Homes that won them the game.
His dedication to beat the Kiwis to the ball first was obvious, and it showed as he dotted down to give his side the lead in a tight first half, which lead to a Junior Kangaroo win.
Not to be disheartened, this was a great game – and both sides put up some great footy.
Fiji 22 Papua New Guinea 10
It was a first half blitz by the Fijian’s that sorted out this game. PNG trailed 18-0 at the break, and could not make up the margin, despite a hearty effort. Fiji were electric in the first half once they found their hands – and that was all on the back of speedster Marika Koroibete. He was too fast and strong for PNG, and showed just how good he is.
PNG were really physical in the second half, but were unlucky. They did themselves proud however.
Samoa 18 Tonga 16
This game was always going to be a brutal affair. It was average at times, which went down to disregard for the ball…. Once that was out of the way it was a decent match. It was a back-and-forth lead sharing one, but in the end, the spoilts went to Samoa.
It is great to see these sides growing, and more players pledging their allegience to the Pacific nations. They are only getting better, and closing the gap on England, Australia and New Zealand.
Country 34 City 22
It was nice to see that majority of the players picked for this game playing, without pulling out. Country lock the shield away for the third year in a row – as City’s comeback was too little, too late. Country gelled better, and showed up when their forwards did the work. Awesome to watch all these young fellas who want a blue origin jersey going hard.
Australia Jillaroos 22 New ZealandKiwi Ferns 14
The Jilaroos put up an upset win over the Kiwi Ferns – but it was a fantastic game that showed plenty of big hits – that did the game proud. Hat-trick hero Mahalia Murphy was dynamic for the Jullaroos on debut as she sealed the same for the Aussies.
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