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The ANZAC bonds between New Zealand and Australian soldiers based at Iraq’s Camp Taji remain as strong as ever except perhaps on the rugby league pitch.

In a charity league match held on a sweltering ANZAC Day, New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel beat their Australian counterparts 32-20.

“Both teams played with passion, despite the heat and the hard surface they had to play on. It was all good fun and for a good cause, and the camaraderie was great,” Task Group Taji’s Regimental Sergeant Major said.

The NZDF and Australian Defence Force teams wore national team jerseys donated by the New Zealand Rugby League and the National Rugby League, respectively.

The charity league match raised US$2,373 (about NZ$3,350) for the New Zealand Fallen Heroes Trust, an organisation that provides support for the families of military personnel killed or injured on operations overseas, and US$2,638(about NZ$3,720) for Legacy Australia, an Australian charity supporting families of service personnel.

About 100 New Zealand and 300 Australian troops comprise Task Group Taji, the combined New Zealand-Australian training mission which has trained around 34,000 Iraqi Security Forces personnel since May 2015.