Big-hearted Kiwis win Four Nations final over Kangaroos

The Kiwis grabbed a last minute try in an amazing game which sealed the win for New Zealand over fierce rivals Australia in the Four Nations final in Brisbane.

Despite the Kiwis trailing for much of the game they were never out of it, and were 12-6 behind with 10 minutes to go before tries from Jason Nightingale and Fien won a dramatic victory for the All Blacks.

Brent Tate’s try had given Australia an early lead, which Shaun Kenny-Dowall cancelled out late in the first half, even though there was a blatant forward pass on the build up to the try.

But New Zealand battled on, with injuries reducing Australia to only two replacements for the entirety of the second half enabled them to a victory.

Despite losing second rower Luke Lewis with an ankle problem midway through the first half and Brent Tate failing to emerge for the second because of a knee injury, it appeared as though Australia were destined to take the crown.

An error by full-back Lance Hohaia gifted Australia the lead, with Tate crossing and Cameron Smith adding the conversion.

There was controversy over the score, with English touch-judge James Child failing to spot Brett Morris’ foot on the touchline in the build-up.

There was a sense of justice when centre Kenny-Dowall took a delayed and suspiciously forward pass from his skipper Benji Marshall to score an equalising try five minutes before half-time.

In the second half, former Catalans Dragons skipper Greg Bird combined with Cooper Cronk to get full-back Slater over for a try on 57 minutes, with Smith again converting to seemingly put his side in control.

New Zealand Winger Nightingale pounced on a perfectly-placed kick from Rugby League genius Benji Marshall to score with nine minutes to go and even though latter hit the post with his conversion attempt to leave his side trailing by two points, the momentum was now with them.

In the final minute, Nightingale broke clear down the right flank and his speculative pass found Marshall, with Fien in the right place to finish off a glorious move.

Marshall added the icing to a famous win by adding the goal.

Even though New Zealand had won, Kiwi coach Stephen Kearney admitted that Australia are still the team to beat.

Kangaroos captain Darren Lockyer, who has almost certainly played his last match for his country on home soil, was magnanimous in defeat.

He said, “Obviously we’re very disappointed with the result but you can’t take away the effort that the New Zealand boys put in, they deserved their win.”

Australia: Slater, Morris, Tate, Tonga, Tuqiri, Lockyer, Cronk, Scott, Smith, Shillington, Lewis, Thaiday, Gallen. Replacements: Learoyd-Lahrs, Bird, Gidley, Myles.

New Zealand: Hohaia, Nightingale, Kenny-Dowall, Mannering, Perrett, Marshall, Fien, McKendry, Leuluai, Blair, Harrison, Matulino, Smith.
Replacements: Eastwood, Luke, Nuuausala, Manu.


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