The Newsroom wraps up the opening round of the Four Nations in which Australia and New Zealand defeated Scotland and England.
Australia crushes Scotland
Mal Meninga’s new-look Kangaroos line-up showed their dominance over Scotland beating them 54-12 in the opening game of the Four Nations. Australian debutant and Manly Sea Eagle Jake Trbojevic scored the last try after supporting a Trent Merrin line break.
Scotland competed strongly in their first international match against Australia but lacked the polish to threaten the Kangaroos.
In the first five minutes, Australia was given an attacking scrum after a Scotland error. A Kangaroo backline set piece saw winger Blake Ferguson wrap around the back and cross in the corner, carrying defenders over the line, making the score 4-0.
Only five minutes later Australia was on the attack again. Melbourne Storm teammates skipper Cameron Smith and halfback Cooper Cronk combined for Australia’s second try. Smith wrong-footed Scotland fullback Lachlan Coote with an angled grubber kick from dummy-half and Cronk recovered the ball to cross the line untouched. Australian five-eighth, James Maloney converted the try making it 10-0.
Australia crossing again in the very next set. Cronk put fullback Matt Moylan into space with an inside pass and Moylan passed for supporting runner Maloney to plant the ball under the post. Maloney added the extra two points to his try pushing the score to 16-0.
Kangaroo second-rower Tyson Frizell played a big part in pushing the result beyond doubt, setting up Cronk for his second try. Frizell broke through the Scots defensive line and passed to inside runner Cronk who dived over. Maloney slotted the conversion to make it 22-0.
Kangaroos winger Josh Mansour collected a double courtesy of his Penrith Panther teammate Moylan’s slick passing, pushing Australia’s lead to 30-0.
Scotland posted their first points in the shadows of half-time when Captain Danny Brough kicked the ball into Australia’s in-goal and halfback Ryan Brierly reached it first. Brough converted to take the half-time score to 30-6.
The Kangaroos scored swiftly in the 43rd minute after centre Josh Dugan side-stepped his way through the defensive line to run for 50 metres and plant the ball under the posts. Maloney converted: 36-6. Soon after, Dugan was sidelined by a sickening head clash with Scottish prop Luke Douglas.
A strong run by lock Ben Kavanagh gave Scorland its second try, and Brough narrowed the gap to 36-12.
Late tries to Frizell, running strongly off a Maloney short ball,and to utility Michael Morgan, filling in for Dugan at centre, took the final score to 48-12 after conversion.
Matt Moylan’s stirring debut performance earned him the man of the match award.
New Zealand pip England
New Zealand and England battled it out for the entire 80 minutes. It took a field goal from Shaun Johnson in the 65th minute to separate the teams 17-16.
The first points of the game were scored by England five-eighth Gareth Widdop, who successfully slotted two penalty goals in the first ten minutes to put England in front 4-0. England prop James Graham, winger Jermaine McGillvary and Kiwi centre Solomone Kata were all denied tries as the Kiwis defended fiercely.
New Zealand hit back with a penalty goal at the 30-minute mark to make it 4-2 then secured the first try of the game through a great backline move that saw winger Jordan Rapana slam the ball down in the corner and took the lead 6-4.
The Kiwis crossed again just took two minutes into the second half after Johnson intercepted and sprinted 80 meteres to the line. Kahu’s conversion pushing the lead to 12-4.
England crossed the line for the first time in the 48th minute with winger McGillvary cutting in off the sideline. Widdop converted, closing the gap to 12-10.
Rapana hit back in the 56th minute when an offload from Manu Ma’u put him into space to score to make it 16-10.
The see-saw battle continued with England levelling four minutes later when Widdop batted the ball over his head for winger Ryan Hall who cross in the corner. Widdop’s kick from the sideline locking the scores at 16-16, then Johnson stole the lead with his drop goal.
England had plenty of chances to take back the lead but failed to capitalise. – Paul Burns
Photo of Josh Dugan racing away for his try from the Australian Kangaroos Facebook page.