Australia has beaten New Zealand 34-20 in front of 44,432 in Auckland.
I have to say, it was great to finally see a Four Nations game of some quality. Both teams looked sharp, with the Kangaroo’s obviously looking the better of the two, however this game was a real contest for the full 80 minutes and both teams showed signs that next weeks final could be an epic contest.
I said you couldn’t take too much out of this game, it was a dead rubber, however there were a few interesting points from the game.
First of all, the quality of performance for both sides was so far ahead of what we have seen so far in the Four Nations. If Australia and New Zealand both feel they only have to really turn it on for two of their games, maybe its time to give the Four Nations concept a rest.
Australia had made a number of drastic changes and it throws up a real dilemma. With Carney and Cronk in the halves, Australia looked sharp around the middle of the field. I’ve always said, in a game that my life depends on, Darren Lockyer is the first player I select, but the new halves pairing looked very good.
Darius Boyd looked sharp despite not playing since the Grand Final. I think he may find himself on the wing in place of Lote Tuqiri who has been ok, but nothing special.
Chris Lawrenece may have cemented his place in the centers ahead of Willie Tonga after his strong display which I thought Matthew Scott and Greg Bird demanded selection in the final, they were terrific.
For New Zealand, they were a bit off in this game but showed some good signs looking towards next week.
Its a shame Frank Pritchard got injured because he looked like he may have been a real X Factor for the Kiwi’s. He was making Todd Carneys life a nightmare until he was forced from the field.
New Zealand looked sharp at times but then again, you also got the feeling they had their foot off the pedal. Things like taking penalty kicks rather than going for tries….I can’t imagine they thought that was the best way to win the game.
Australia won, but I think the honours were shared in reality. The Kangaroo’s stepped up their intensity, as did the Kiwi’s. Both sides look about as good as each other, they got a good hit out and they didn’t show off too much and give away their game plans.
One other things from this game, the crowd behaviour was terrible. Bottles were thrown on the field (One apparently hit Petero Civoniceva in the back), people ran onto the playing surface….just ridiculous stuff in this day and age.
Earlier in the day England managed to get away with a 36-10 victory over Papua New Guinea. Tony Clubb scored four tries on his test debut and acted like a complete arsehole after every single one of them.
England go home with nothing positive to take out of their performances and Papua New Guinea god home needing a better coach and to select their best team the next time around.
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