Published: Tue, October 16, 2018
Sport | By Gary Shelton

Kiwis beat Kangaroos 26-24 in rugby league upset

Kiwis beat Kangaroos 26-24 in rugby league upset

The start was absolutely flawless for the Kangaroos, with the Kiwis tactic of up-and-in defence backfiring when they couldn't shut down the ball and a good combination of passing between Roosters trio Boyd Cordner, Luke Keary and James Tedesco gave fellow premiership Rooster, centre Latrell Mitchell space out on the left hand side before drawing in the fullback and passing out to Valentine Holmes who took the ball around towards the posts and scored the opener.

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 for their first win over Australia since the 2015 Anzac Test.

"It's unbelievable, surreal", Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, who was captaining New Zealand for the first time, said after the five tries to four victory.

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. "We've got to continually back up these type of performances and that's when you can start talking about the team and where we're going", Maguire said.

The world champions will now be desperate to turn it around against rising Tonga at Mt Smart on Saturday. New Zealand was on a three-match losing streak in tests against all countries, and discouraged fans stayed away.

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While New Zealand dominated possession and territory in the first half, Australia began and ended the spell with tries which gave it a lead at halftime. It started slowly and poorly, but the last 20 minutes of the first half was a cracker. They remained a threat throughout the match but wanted for opportunities.

The Australians scored an early try to Valentine Holmes, but they suffered a blow when they lost halfback Luke Keary on 17 minutes.

"The noise of the crowd and the supporters was something special and to hear the joy of the people is the reason why you play footy", says Maguire. Smith had a second disallowed.

However the Kiwis also had a new-look team, with Watene-Zelezniak making his debut as captain and Manu and Smith joining the new players blooded in June's Denver Test against England. "We didn't give ourselves much chance but we stuck to it and it was a tight finish".

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