Rugby League: Australia bounce back

AUSTRALIA SCORED five tries to beat New Zealand 30-12 and level the best-of-three rugby league Test series yesterday.

The Kangaroos are defending a proud record of 20 years without suffering a series loss. The decider will be played in Auckland on 16 October.

Australia led 14-0 at half-time in yesterday's second Test at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium after full-back Darren Lockyer opened the scoring with a penalty in the 18th minute.

Shortly afterwards he was carried from the field after being hit by a "gang" tackle.

Lockyer's Broncos team-mate Gorden Tallis crossed for the first of Australia's five tries when he combined with new captain Allan Langer to score in the 26th minute.

Andrew Johns landed the conversion but lost his kicking duties when Lockyer returned to the field, celebrating his comeback with a try on the stroke of half-time.

The Kiwis struck back five minutes after the restart when winger Sean Hoppe scored a spectacular 90-metre interception try, which their captain, Matthew Ridge, converted.

But their hopes were dashed as Australian back rower Brad Thorn and stand- off Kevin Walters ran in quick tries. New Zealand centre Ruben Wiki cut the margin to 24-10 with 12 minutes remaining before Tallis sealed Australia's win with his second try.

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