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The Rock-itt : June 2010
It hasn't been an easy time for rugby league fans in Melbourne this past month, but they were given a reprieve from their anguish over the Melbourne Storm salary cap debacle on 7 May when the two best sides in the world, 4-Nation Champions, Australia went head to head with World Cup Champions, New Zealand, at the newly christened AAMI Park. In dreadful conditions, Australia held the ascendency for most of the match but were given a late scare from the fast finishing Kiwis. Manly Sea Eagles Co-Captain, Jamie Lyon, was the first player to register points at the new venue when he slotted over a penalty goal in the 32nd minute. Penalties again were the Kiwis' downfall, a Steve Matai's bone rattler on Billy Slater was deemed late by the officials and subsequently saw the home side with a full set of six inside the 20, resulting in the first try at AAMI Park to St. George Illawarra Dragon, Brett Morris who touched down after a brilliantly placed grubber from captain, Darren Lockyer on the stroke of halftime, sending the 29 442 spectators into pandemonium. Australia's next try was much scrappier than the first, yet it was another Brisbane Bronco who came up to try and assist. Man of the Match, Sam Thaiday produced another one of his many barnstorming runs down the left edge of the Kangaroos attack and before being bustled into touch by three New Zealand defenders still showed the composure to dump the ball back in-field for Brett Morris to scoop up and claim his second of the night and 8th try in just 5 appearances in the green and gold. Jamie Lyon ignored the swirling winds and heavy rain to convert from the sideline, which guided the Australians to a 2-converted try lead. To their credit, New Zealand didn't give in to the Kangaroos onslaught and gallantly defended another charge before recording their first points of the fixture after a Lance Hohaia cut-out pass found Jason Nightingale who crossed in the corner and continued the trend of Dragons players scoring the tries in the match. The nerves grew even more through the Australian camp when Newcastle Knights centre, Junior Sau used his wide stature to brush aside any green and gold defender to barge over the line and cut the lead to 4 with just 2 minutes to go. But the home side kept their nerve and continued their dominance of the mid-year test with a sloppy 12-8 victory. After the match, Kiwi Steven Kearny commended the effort of his troops, "I just thought the way they hung in there and gave themselves an opportunity was very good from our point of view," and skipper Benji Marshall took positives from the match and expressed how he believes that New Zealand are fast approaching their bitter rivals, "I don't think we're that far off to tell you the truth ... at the end of the day, the goal kicking put them in front. If anything, we think we're equal or even better. '' From the Australian camp Tim Sheens also commented on the rise of the Kiwis in the past seasons, stating the days of the Kangaroos beating everyone by a cricket score is over, "We've been saying all along there's not much in the game. Everyone's been saying we're going to win by 50 but we know that's not the case.'' Australia Kangaroos 12 Brett Morris 2 tries Jamie Lyon 2 Goals Defeated New Zealand Kiwis 8 Jason Nightingale Junior Sau tries Man of the Match Sam Thaiday Jarryd Hayne Kiwi Junior Sau