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Australia earn late draw
New Zealand and Australia open Four Nations campaign with a 20-20 draw.
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2009 09:42 GMT

Frank Pritchard of New Zealand dives past the Aussie defence to score a try [GALLO/GETTY]
Australia mustered a 20-all draw against New Zealand in rugby league's Four Nations tournament at The Stoop in London after Cameron Smith scored a 79th-minute converted try.

The world champion New Zealand side slotted in four tries to Australia's three, but Smith's score and Johnathan Thurston's conversion secured a point for the Kangaroos.

The match was a physical one, featuring a first-half brawl involving most players.

Kiwi favourites

New Zealand had looked set to repeat last year's World Cup final upset when Lance Hohaia and Frank Pritchard crossed to establish a 20-14 lead in the 74th. Frank-Paul Nuuausala and Junior Sa'u had earlier scored for the Kiwis.

Nuuausala crashed over in the seventh minute after breaking the line 15 metres out and beating fullback Billy Slater for a converted try as New Zealand led 6-0.

Australia backrower Paul Gallen and Kiwi hooker Isaac Luke exchanged punches that sparked a brawl across the teams, with Kiwi forward Adam Blair sprinting 20 metres before torpedoing himself into a group of Kangaroos.

Australia drew level after Smith offloaded in a tackle to Greg Inglis, who ran 40 metres before finding Morris on his outside to touch down out wide.

Thurston converted the try from the sideline for a half-time score of 6-6, and he put Australia in front three minutes after the break by craftily stealing the ball from Hohaia only 10 metres out from the Kiwis' line to cross for an easy try.

Sa'u hit back in the 56th with a powerful run over the top of several defenders to draw New Zealand within reach, and subsequent tries by Hohaia and Pritchard looked to have sealed the match until Smith went over after good lead-up work by Inglis.

"At one stage it was a point lost, but in the end it was a point gained", said Australia coach Tim Sheens talking to the BBC.

"We had the game and enough ball, but they just wouldn't lie down and they defended their goal-line really well to frustrate us.

In the other game of the evening, Lebanon smashed Italy 86-0.

Source:
Agencies
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