After watching the New Zealand Maori Haka being challenge by the Aboriginal war dance and seeing both proud teams look like they may come to blows before the game started, you could help but be pumped up ahead of the Australia vs New Zealand match.
Unfortunantly I didn’t get to see the Aboriginal Dream Time Team beat the New Zealand Maori side, I had to leave for the main game just before halftime, but what I saw just confirmed my feeling that both sides should play against each other on Australia Day every year.
Arriving at the Stadium a good hour before kickoff, the crowd was already big.
The opening ceremony was fantastic, with an Aboriginal Smoking ceremony and then Natalie Bassingwaite (Otherwise known as Izzy off Neighbours) belting out the Heroes tune.
Seeing it all maybe me thankful that the Rugby League World Cup was back, because at the end of the day you can talk about scorelines, attendances, money and tv ratings, but what the World Cup is really all about is continuing the great tradition that the people and players before us forged against even greater odds than we face today.
Now on to the main game!
You could see Australia took a little while to get it together but by the end of the game they looked on song.
New Zealands mobile pack was a huge improvement over what we have seen in the past. They did lack around dummy half though, they didn’t really get much out of there, while I felt Benji Marshall wasn’t as assertive as you would want him to be….and that was always going to be a major factor in how New Zealand performed.
As always Steve Matai was in everything, putting on a high shot (Which I think will see him miss two games), injurying his shoulder (Which is actually a nerve problem with his neck), and getting involved in a lot of the teams attack.
Lance Hohaia just wasn’t effective at fullback, he didn’t look dangerous in attack and was caught out of position when it come to difusing the kicking game.
However last night was all about the great Australian team.
While quiet early on, Billy Slater really warmed to the occasion.
It was amazing to see Greg Inglis and be able to focus on him all night. He is beyond amazing, everything he is involved in is fantastic for his side and major trouble for the opposition.
Israel Folau is the biggest and strongest player on the field. No matter if he playing in the forwards or running out wide, it takes at least 4 players to stop him.
Lockyer and Thurstons combination worked itself out over the game to the point where they were playing perfectly in the last 20 minutes, while the Australian forward pack just worked its arse off all day with everyone looking young and fresh!
It was a great win by Australia but the Kiwi’s didn’t roll over and die like they have the last few years, so that was also good to see.
The problem I see ahead is that Australia look like they are ready to put on a big score against England. They got so much out of that first game and I really do think they could crack 50 against England.
I think I might go to that one too!
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