Four tries in 10 minutes at the end gave the Kiwis an unlikely draw in the first game of their tour yesterday after they had been comprehensively outplayed by the locals here at Whitehaven.
Cumbria dominated for 70 minutes, but then the tourists suddenly put their game together, running in tries through Taylor Pelenise, Ricky Henry, Lusi Sione and Hale Va'asa. Steve Buckingham kicked all four goals - the last of them, in the final minute, barely scraping inside the post.
It was nine years since Cumbria had played as a County side, but after a 15-minute delay to get a 4,000 crowd into the Recreation Ground they set about making up for lost time. Facing New Zealanders with all the size and aggression you would expect, the Cumbrians were quite brilliant in the first half.
They scored after 11 minutes when Brett McDermott slipped the ball out for Ewan Dowes. Garry Broadbent got their second after Rob Purdham had regathered his own kick and got a superb pass away. Purdham then combined with Peter Lupton, whose short pass put Howard Hill over and, with Lupton's three goals, Cumbria were 18 points up at the break.
They had to defend doggedly at the start of the second half, but again cashed in when Lupton's kick was deflected and Hill pounced for his second. That seemed to make the result safe until the Kiwis somehow managed their great escape.
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