Australia Beats New Zealand In An Arm Wrestle In Melbourne

The Australian Kangaroos have beaten the World Champions New Zealand Kiwi’s 12-8 in torrential rain at Melbourne’s AAMI Park.

It was the first game played at AAMI Park, Melbourne’s brand new rectangular pitched stadium, and the rain thrashed down for the full 80 minutes. The pitch itself must have been incredible to take the battering it did over 80 minutes and no even look marked!

The weather had an impact on the game, but where as 20 years ago this would have been a dour struggle, we still managed to see some amazing speed and skill on show and it was a real testament to the players on both sides.

Its hard to know what to say about the way Australia played. I tend to think they may have had an eye on the Four Nations at seasons end and didn’t want to give to much away. In defense they looked great when they were challenged out wide, but there is ground to be made up the middle against the Kangaroo’s when you get a great halfback working off the back of clean play the balls.

I thought Cronk and Lockyer really controlled the team well, with Cronk having the type of game that could see him cement his place in the side.

Slater was at his brilliant best, Hayne found himself more involved when compared to last years Four Nations, and every time Greg Inglis touched the ball he was throwing opposition players around, he’s a deadset freak!

I still worry about the Australian pack. I think we are really struggling at prop right now. We have Petero, who is brilliant for a player with so many games under his belt, but who isn’t the same player he was 5 years ago, and Shillington who is getting better but not yet at his best.

Its also got to be said that the grafters in the side, Gallen, Smith and Lewis, they probably don’t tighten things up the middle of the field as well as you’d want. Gallen especially worries me. He gets through a lot of work, but he doesn’t do the cleanup work that a great lock really should.

Lewis I thought played alright with limited opportunities, he has really grown at Test level. I still think Australia needs a bit more size in the pack, mainly off the bench, and give the Kiwi’s someone they have to really scramble to stop breaking the line.

Willie Mason comes to mind.

New Zealand
They didn’t win but they came home with a wet sail and if not for missed conversions and a penalty right on half time that ended up costing them a try, the Kiwi’s would have won this game pretty comfortably.

New Zealand is a bit of a mirror image of the Gold Coast Titans if you ask me. Their forwards grind up the park and make good meters, but when they get to the try line, they just don’t have the polish to get across the line.

Marshall needs to be moved back to five-eight on a full time basis. The way he is playing now going between first and second receiver is just not working. On top of that Issac Luke needs to stay on the field longer, and I think they need to look at their backup hooker Aaron Heremaia. He did his best, but his service was very slow from dummy half and the Kiwi’s were a shadow of themselves in attack when Luke was off the field.

I thought the forwards played well, especially in that second half. If anything I think the rain cut down their size and mobility advantage against Australia’s pack.

Out side, Perrett was brilliant as usual and Matai put on a great hit on Billy Slater late in the first half that resulted in a costly penalty. Personally I think it was ok for Test Football, but its hard to argue against the penalty.

I was a bit disappointed with Lance Hohaia’s game. he just didn’t provide that extra ball playing he normally does. Keiron Foran played very well for a player so young, but he is a five-eight like Benji Marshall, and so he wasn’t at his best having to switch roles either during this one. Still, he started off a bit so-so and got better as the game went on.

The Referee
Richard Silverwood is an English referee, and like all English officials, he was completely out of his depth.

He missed a multitude of basic calls, he blew his whistle for so many silly nothing things in the game, at one point he changed his mind about which side got to feed the scrum THREE TIMES and another time he called held, the ball was passed, and he just made up his own rule where by he ordered a scrum and gave the Kiwi’s six more talked!

The ARL and NZRL need to sort this. Get together, pick an NRL referee to use and have quality officials that are up to standard instead of flying over yet another rubbish Pom.

The Stadium
Melbourne’s new stadium, which will become the home of the Melbourne Storm, looks amazing.

A total of 29,422 attended tonight’s Test Match which was fantastic, I doubt you’d have got that many in Sydney, especially in those conditions!

The turf is 50% synthetic so the ball tends to skid on a lot in kicks. Its going to play right into the Storms hand, with their great kicking game, and I think we’ll see a lot of 40/20’s there.

Its a perfect venue for Test Football. Australia will play England there later this year for the Four Nations, and I have a feeling that will be nothing short of a massacre!

You Poms
By the way, I could hear some of you pommy losers already.

“That wasn’t so impressive, England will beat these sides later in the year”.

You poor, deluded, soap dodging idiots.

England would have been thrashed tonight by both teams, and I have to say going by what we saw tonight, the Four Nations at the end of this year will be an even bigger disaster than the 2008 World Cup was for you lot.

I can’t wait!

Australia did what they had to and overcome a pretty bad injury that saw Cameron Smith leave the field. The Kiwi’s started of solidly, fell away a little, but came back pretty strong and know what they need to work on now.

I really like the look of the Kiwi’s side and the players they have to draw upon. If they can get a halfback do just feed Marshall the ball and take a bit of pressure off with a kicking game, wow, they will be hard to beat.

As for Australia, they need more impact up front, but as long as they have a backline this good, they will always be in the hunt. I think Jennings needs to come back in for Lyon at season end, but wow, we’re going to see a great Four Nations Final between these two teams at seasons end!

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