Australia and New Zealand have fought out a 20 all draw at the Stoop in London.
In what at times was a scrappy game, both teams looked rusty at times with New Zealand playing the better football over the course of the game.
The Kiwi’s were under the pump early on but in true Rugby League style, they absorbed the pressure and then hit back with their first taste of good field position with a well set up try that should really concern the Australian coaching staff for the way the defense was broken so easily.
Australia looked very scrappy, short of a run and seemed to be pushing the ball wide way too early without settling a platform up the middle of the field. This scrappy play saw them score from a dropped ball when Cameron Smith picked the ball up and put on a brilliant pass to Greg Inglis who calmly summed up the situation and put Brett Morris over to tie the game up.
While the Sky commentators were still wondering why the World Champions were actually competing in a game, both teams started to very slowly get the miles under their bests and play some better football.
In the second half Australia played better, but you get the feeling they they are rushing things and trying to over play the game. Maybe after years of thrashing all opposition there is a feeling that they should be playing basketball style football and they seem to have forgotten that they need to go back to the basics and they will win.
They scored a lucky try early in the second half through Jonathan Thurston after he stripped Lance Hohaia ten meters out from the Kiwi line and went in for an easy four pointer. I’ve seen those players penalised, two defensers had fallen off Hohaia before the strip, but they gave the try and you got the feeling Australia were getting ready to settle for a solid win after they kicked a penalty goal soon after.
But, never underestimate the Queenslan….I mean Kiwis!
They come right back into the contest with two great tries, but it was the sweeping backline play with a million decoy runners and a beautiful pass that saw big Frankie Prichard go over that was the best play of the game.
With just minutes remaining the New Zealand side had a 6 point lead.
You can never count the Queensl….I mean Australian side out though and though the play was scrappy it took a strong run by Inglis and then an offload to Cameron Smith to seal just the third draw in the 100+ year history of Test matches between the old rivals.
A few points about the game.
I thought Steve Gansons refereeing was terrible. He blew about a thousand penalties, most of which were not needed, he made some terrible decision, you could really see how terribly off the pace he was. Even his ten meters was terrible and erratic.
I would hope that the ARL and NZRL sort out to play games under the officiating of a decent referee. Get that Kiwi’s bloke from the first Four Nations game, anyone but these terrible English officials.
The Kiwi’s probably lost this game on the back of the officials.
New Zealand will get better after this performance. They look so good and are their game has progressed so much in recent years.
They have gone from a side playing simple football that was error riddled to a slick, powerful but mobile team that is as cool as ice under pressure, it is great to see.
Australia have a lot to sort out. Trying to score on every play, playing away from the middle third of the field, when they played solid football they carved up the middle of the field, but when they started running from sideline to sideline the Kiwi’s picked them off easily, they need to settle down and play a more basic game plan.
The problem is their next two games will see them slaughter England and France, so they will be heading into the final against an opponent that will have improved having not played that good solid football they will need to beat New Zealand.
Its looking good for New Zealand, but for Australia, they need to do a lot of work. At the end of the day it was an exciting game, messy, but it will get better.