Australia get out of jail with late try by Smith

Australia 20 New Zealand 20
Click to follow
The Independent Online

A last-minute try by Cameron Smith salvaged a Four Nations draw for Australia in a dramatic sequel to their defeat in last year's World Cup final.

Trailing by six points with time running out, they regained possession from a short kick-off, kept the ball alive in New Zealand territory and saw Smith (pictured), their hooker and best player on the night, plunge over to give Johnathan Thurston the conversion to tie the scores.

"You can be in front for a long time but Australia are such a good team they can come back from anywhere," said the New Zealand captain, Benji Marshall.

New Zealand had put themselves under pressure with early mistakes. When they did force their way into Australian territory, they took an immediate lead.

The Kiwis got a penalty when Fuifui Moimoi was prevented from playing the ball quickly and, from that continued possession, Adam Blair's precise short pass sent Frank-Paul Nuuausala over.

Referee Steve Ganson awarded a series of penalties against New Zealand for hanging on in the tackle, forcing them into long periods defending their try-line.

It was after the half-hour mark before they cracked. Smith, starting to boss the show around the rucks, sent Greg Inglis away with a sublime pass, and was able to draw Lance Hohaia and send Brett Morris over for a debut try, with Thurston's curling conversion tying the scores.

That was the way it stayed to the end of a half that was extended by the need to sort out a mass brawl sparked by a high tackle on Isaac Luke.

The second half saw Hohaia go from villain to near national hero. He had the ball stolen from him by Thurston for the try that put Australia ahead and then another fumble produced the penalty that gave them an eight-point lead.

But after Junior Sa'u had powered over to put the Kiwis back in it, Hohaia was the man who turned a scrum-base move into a try to give them the advantage once more.

When Marshall's floated pass put Frank Pritichard in, the Kiwis were set for another of their famous victories over their neighbours, but Bryson Goodwin missed the kick to leave Australia with a life-line which they grasped.

"At the end, it was a point gained for us," admitted the Kangaroos' coach, Tim Sheens.

Australia Slater; Morris, Inglis, Hodges, Hayne; Lockyer, Thurston; Hannant, Smith, Civoniceva, Waterhouse, Hoffman, Watmough. Substitutes used: White, Thaiday, Gallen, Gidley.

New Zealand Hohaia; Perrett, Matai, Sau, Goodwin; Marshall, Fien; Nuuausala, Leuluai, Moimoi, Harrison, Pritchard, Blair. Substitutes used: Lima, Luke, Soliola, Waerea-Hargreaves.

Referee: S Ganson (St Helens).