Rabbitohs and Kangaroos fullback Greg Inglis scored a four-pointer in Australia’s Four Nations loss to the Kiwis tonight (Saturday) in a match that saw the Kangaroos forced into a mid-game positional re-shuffle.
With Inglis sitting out the second stanza owing to a virus, and five-eighth Daly Cherry-Evans succumbing to a hip injury, Rabbitohs Test debutant Dylan Walker was shifted to fullback by Coach Tim Sheens after the centre defended strongly in the opening half, while Robbie Farah was also moved into unfamiliar territory to cover. Despite a gallant effort though, the Kiwis proved too strong in front of a vocal crowd.
Rabbitohs hooker Issac Luke may have been serving a two match suspension, but that didn’t stop the proud Kiwi from taking his usual place in the Haka – front and centre for the traditional opening to get the Test going.
With first use of the ball, Australia made their intentions clear when Beau Scott went searching for the ball out wide, coming up with an early four-pointer thanks to a well-timed pass from Daly Cherry-Evans. Cameron Smith converted 18 metres in from touch to give the Kangaroos a 6-0 lead inside the first four minutes.
New Zealand bombed a certain try in response when Jason Nightingale failed to ground the ball seven minutes later as he dived over the line. But Kevin Proctor made no mistake not long after when he stretched over the line despite the gallant efforts of the Kangaroo defence. Shaun Johnson added the extras from out wide to level it all up at six apiece.
But leave it to Greg Inglis to be the difference – the Rabbitohs fullback injecting himself from dummy half within five metres of the line to reach out and score the tie-breaker, his 24th Test try in 30 matches. Smith added the extras to make it 12-6.
In a hotly contested encounter, an Australian mistake inside their own half allowed the Kiwis to score through Lewis Brown. Shaun Johnson added the extras to again lock up the match at 12 apiece going into the break.
On the resumption, the Kangaroos emerged from the sheds with Greg Inglis noticeably absent – the fullback remained in the sheds for monitoring on the count of having a virus and feeling dizzy.
Dylan Walker shifted to fullback and produced a try-saving tackle on Greg Eastwood in the opening exchanges, but wasn’t able to stop a brilliant individual effort from Shaun Johnson seconds later – Johnson kicking and regathering to score before converting his own try.
Just minutes later, the Kiwis were at it again when a cross-field kick from Kieran Foran found Dean Whare on the other end, who jumped over Daniel Tupou to score. Johnson added the extras to make it 24-12 in the 51st minute.
With the clock winding down, Jason Nightingale made no mistake with the put-down to seal the match. Shaun Johnson added the extras to make the final score 30-12.
New Zealand 30 (Kevin Proctor, Lewis Brown, Shaun Johnson, Dean Whare, Jason Nightingale, tries; Shaun Johnson 5 goals)
Australia 12 (Beau Scott, Greg Inglis, tries; Cameron Smith 2 goals)