Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sat 5th Nov 2016 9:55 PM
The two hundred percenters clashed in the second match of the Four Nations double-header at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry. Whoever emerged victorious from the next eighty minutes would all but guarantee their appearance in the final at Anfield in a fortnight's time.

The teams last met in the middle of last month, with Australia the victors by 26-6, but the World number one side, New Zealand, would be keen to overcome the old enemy.

Most of the crowd had stayed to watch the worlds best in action and were hoping for a close game.

The opening exchanges slightly favoured the green and gold and on ten minutes, and the back of two quick penalties, they moved the ball left to right through four pairs of hands before a miss-out pass from Darius Boyd put Blake Ferguson over in the right corner. Johnathan Thurston failed to add the extra two points.

On thirteen Thurston scored Australia's second after ducking under a high tackle off a Ferguson pass and when he added the extras it was 10-0 and the signs were ominous for the Kiwis.

New Zealand battened down the hatches and managed to frustrate the Australian attack for the remainder of the half. They did get some possession in their opponents half but it was very sparse. Australia weren't panicking. They were in full control and had enough of a lead to bide their time.

It was a much more impressive start to the second half and on forty-eight minutes Solomone Kata managed to push his way to the line and ground on the whitewash under two Australian tacklers. Johnson missed the conversion attempt but his side were back within a converted try.

Thurston accepted the invitation of a twenty metre penalty on fifty-five to stretch the Aussies lead to eight points. The stand-off added another two points on seventy when there was holding down in the tackle. At 14-4 it was looking like a mountain for New Zealand to climb.

The try of the double-header came on seventy-seven when a Johnson kick and recover allowed him to find Kenny-Dowall who in turn fed Rapana to go over. Johnson failed to add the conversion but the margin was back to just six points with two minutes remaining.

Despite being forced to drop out from their own line in the final sixty-seconds, and having to endure a video referee 'NO TRY' decision in the last second, Australia held on for a 14-8 win.

Australia bossed the game and did what was needed to almost guarantee their place in the Four Nations final. Barring an unlikely big loss to England next Sunday, they will go into that final as favourites. They will have been frustrated not to have scored more points in a game which they dominated so completely.

New Zealand: Kanu, Beale, Kata (T), Kenny-Dowall, Rapana (T), Leuluai, Johnson, Bromwich, Luke, Eastwood, Proctor, Harris, Taumalolo. Subs: Brown, Taupau, M'au, Blair.

Australia: Boyd D, Ferguson (T), O'Neill, Inglis, Holmes, Morgan, Thurston (T, 3G), Scott, Smith, Woods, Cordner, Gillett, Merrin. Subs: Boyd S, Maloney, Klemmer, Thaiday.


Referee: Ben Cummins.

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