Australia produced a gutsy performance to claim a hard-fought 18-10 win over New Zealand in the end-of-season clash in Townsville.
After a 23-minute scoring drought in the second half, Australia edged ahead in the dying minutes thanks to a Johnathan Thurston penalty goal and a Darius Boyd try. North Queensland prop Matthew Scott put together a man-of-the-match performance in front of a sell-out crowd of 26,500.
Fellow veterans Cameron Smith, Paul Gallen and Thurston were also instrumental in the win, while 23-year-old New Zealand-born prop James Tamou was at his explosive best producing two sensational line breaks. It is the second win in a row for Australia after another eight-point win in New Zealand on April 20.
Reigning World Cup champions New Zealand looked the more lethal early, but the Kangaroos rallied behind some experienced heads in Smith and Thurston to keep within striking distance.
New Zealand were on the attack from the kick-off, and after a Tamou penalty on the seventh minute they were in prime scoring position. Kiwi hooker Issac Luke then muscled his way through the Australian defence for a try on the eighth minute.
Thurston was again in on the action minutes later, with a well-placed grubber leading to the Kiwis getting tackled in goal. This led to Smith weaving his way through for a try on the 23rd minute, and the score was 6-4.
The game seemingly tipped in Australia's favour when Tamou broke through multiple Kiwi defenders on the 34th minute to score his first Test try and put his side up 10-6. But New Zealand struck back in the 39th minute when a Benji Marshall bomb led to a Beale try to tie the scores at 10-all going into half-time.
The scoring dried up at the start of the second half. Tamou had Kiwis wishing he was on their side when he burst through the middle of the ground before flicking it off to Slater who was then tackled. Moments later Thurston looked to have scored on the 60th minute, but was held up in-goal by fullback Josh Hoffman, and the deadlock remained.
In the same set, a penalty to the Kangaroos after an unlawful strip gave Thurston a kick in front of goal, which he slotted through the posts on the 63rd minute to put Australia up 12-10.
It took 32 minutes of the period for a try but Australian winger Boyd finally broke the drought after providing an explosive inside run for second-rower Paul Gallen, and with Thurston converting the score was 18-10.
- Johnathan Thurston
- New Zealand
- Cameron Smith