Australia take first blood

Australia has started this year’s Rugby League Tri-Nations series with a commanding 30-18 victory at Mount Smart Stadium in New Zealand.

The match lived up to its physical billing, but once both teams settled into their games, the visitors showed they were a cut above their opponents to virtually end the contest by half time.

New Zealand five eighth Nigel Vagana scored the first points of the night when he barged over from dummy half and found himself being on the right side of a questionable interpretation from the video referees.

But the Australians got over their frustration with the officials to play some sparkling attacking football, with Broncos fullback Karmichael Hunt the main benefactors of the space halves Johnathan Thurstson and Darren Lockyer were finding for their outside men.

The 19 year scored the Kangaroos first try when he was on the end of a beautiful Darren Lockyer pass which found his Broncos teammate in plenty of space, and he had his second minutes later with Johnathan Thurston showed he was a fitting replacement for retired half back Andrew Johns with a delightful ball to put Hunt under the posts unchallenged.

The two tries threatening to derail the Kiwis passionate start to game and second rower David Kidwell attempted to lift his side and the vocal crowd with an enormous shoulder charge of Kangaroos forward Willie Mason.

The hit shook the very foundations of the Stadium as the crowd was thrilled to see the 120 kilo Mason unable to rise to his feet until receiving treatment, he’ll also return to Australia sporting a black eye as a memento.

But the lift in the New Zealanders didn’t equate to points as a rushed Stacy Jones pass was scooped up by Australian centre Mark Gasnier who sprinted 80 metres to score and give Australia a 14 point buffer at half time.

The controversy surrounding video referees looks set to make its transition from the NRL to International Rugby League when a decision ranging from bizarre to incompetent denied the Melbourne Storm’s Glen Inglis a try.

How players from that club must despise the technology.

The home side threaten to bring the game back to life when Jerome Ropati scored, but the Australians immediately responded when Bulldog front rower Mark O’Meley crashed over to ensure the first points in the series would be heading back across the Tasman.

Justice prevailed when Inglis was given the benefit of the doubt to score which gave the prodigious talent a try in is first test of what promising to be a long international career.

Giant New Zealand winger Manu Vatuvai scored on the final siren to give his side some consolation but they will have a lot of work to do before they face the Aussies again next Saturday in Melbourne.

Source : Al Jazeera

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