Sport Rugby League Kiwis upset Kangaroos in a 26-24 Auckland thriller

Kiwis upset Kangaroos in a 26-24 Auckland thriller

kiwis kangaroos test
Kiwis skipper Dallin Watene Zelezniak said he'd never been more proud of his side. Photo: Getty
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A dominant Kiwis side has stunned the late-charging Kangaroos to record their first win against the Australians in 3½ years.

The Kiwis were leading 26-12 with only minutes to go and almost threw it away after the Kangaroos dotted down twice in the dying minutes, but eventually prevailed 26-24.

The loss broke a 13-game winning streak for the Kangaroos and was their first loss under coach Mal Meninga. It was the New Zealanders’ first win over Australia since the 2015 Anzac Test.

While Australia is embarking on a rebuild after the retirement of a golden generation of players including Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk, Billy Slater and Cameron Smith, New Zealand media also hailed the Kiwis’ victory as the “dawn of a new era” for NZ league.

Joey Manu was outstanding for the Kiwis, upstaging his Sydney Roosters teammate, Latrell Mitchell, scoring one try and setting up another in a rampaging performance, while Shaun Johnson was named man of the match.

The Kiwi forwards, led by Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Jesse Bromwich and Martin Taupau, dominated while David Klemmer was the only Aussie forward to make more than 100 metres.

The Australians scored two late tries through Felise Kaufusi and James Tedesco, to set up a nail-biting final two minutes, but the Kiwis managed to hold the Kangaroos out.

But most commentators agreed the scoreline belied the Kiwis’ dominance in both possession and territory, and with the New Zealanders denied two tries on review, which could seemingly have gone either way.

The result will go a long way to restoring the NZ public’s faith in the Kiwis after a years of sluggish performances and off-field issues.

After the Kangaroos took a 12-8 lead into halftime despite the Kiwis controlling possession and territory, the home side hit the front when hooker Brandon Smith burrowed over in the 54th minute.

And when a light-stepping Johnson created an overlap, Esan Marsters put the Kiwis up 20-12.

Johnson again was allowed to run across field, with Manu popping a magical offload in traffic to send Jordan Rapana over to give his side what proved a winning lead at 26-12.

Earlier, the Australians started like a freight train with Mitchell putting Valentine Holmes over in just the third minute.

Five-eighth Luke Keary’s Test debut was short-lived after he was taken off with a head knock in the 17th minute and did not return.

The Kiwis were twice denied by the video referees in the first half – with skipper Dallin Watene-Zelezniak controversially turned down after Manu was ruled to have knocked on after a spectacular pick-up and chip.

But Manu did give his side an 8-6 lead when he produced a powerful fend to run over Mitchell in the 35th minute.

The Kangaroos produced something out of nothing when Daly Cherry-Evans, Tom Trbojevic and Dane Gagai combined on the stroke of halftime to make it 10-8, however the Kiwis powered home in the second half.

-with AAP

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