Kangaroos Take Close VB Test
Saturday, 21 April 2012
Shaun Johnson backed up by Josh Hoffman looks for a break April 20 test match
The Kangaroos have beaten the Kiwis 20-12 in front of 35,339
people at Eden Park in the VB Test. There were a couple of injury
hold-ups early in the match, with Shaun Johnson staying down after
a heavy knock to the shoulder, and then David Shillington taking
time to find his feet after a head clash with Sam McKendry. When
the repairs were sorted it was the Kiwis who took the lead as Issac
Luke weaved his way over from dummy half in the 12th minute. Benji
The dancing feet of Johnathan Thurston got the Kangaroos back in
the match not long after as he scored beside the posts. His goal
kicking boots tied the scores.
The Queensland connection in the Aussie backline put the visitors
ahead next as the ball went from Cooper Cronk to Thurston, who fed
Billy Slater into an outside gap, before Greg Inglis took a final
pass to score out wide on the left. Thurston converted from the
A critical call in the game came at the end of the first half when
Slater put himself in the way of Alex Glenn's potentially
try-scoring pursuit of a Johnson grubber kick. Slater got 10mins in
the bin, but the Kiwis were unable to capitalise on their extra man
and the Kangaroos even jumped ahead in this period to 14-6 though
another Thurston penalty goal.
At the start of the second half - and this may just have been
coincidence - the British boy-band One Direction made an appearance
on the sideline and Cronk's passing radar went astray. Johnson
snaffled an intercept and ran 90m to score. Marshall converted and
the Kiwis were only two points behind at 14-12.
The match stayed an arm wrestle for much of the second half. But a
try for the Aussie captain, Cameron Smith, with 10mins to go proved
the decisive blow. Thurston again converted.
For the Kiwis, the performances of the two debutants in the
backline were especially impressive. Johnson was dangerous on
attack, his try brought the Kiwis right into the game, and he
showed real courage to continue after his early shoulder trouble.
Josh Hoffman, at fullback, also battled through injury after
spraining his ankle on a kick return. He looked certain to leave
the field in the first half, but played the match out. His defence
at the back, such as a try-saving tackle on Justin Hodges, was
superb and he was always a threat returning the ball.
Johnathan Thurston was named man of the match.
At Eden Park, Auckland:
Kiwis: 12 (Shaun Johnson, Issac Luke tries; Benji
Marshall 2 conversions).
Kangaroos: 20 (Greg Inglis, Cameron Smith,
Johnathan Thurston tries; Thurston 3 conversions and 1 penalty
Halftime: 14-6 (Australia)
Referee: Richard Silverwood (England)
Kiwis: Josh Hoffman, Jason Nightingale, Shaun
Kenny-Dowall, Simon Mannering, Manu Vatuvei, Benji Marshall (c),
Shaun Johnson, Sam McKendry, Issac Luke, Ben Matulino, Frank
Pritchard, Adam Blair, Jeremy Smith. Interchange: Nathan Fien,
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Jesse Bromwich, Alex Glenn, Gerard Beale