Kangaroos down Kiwis
The Kangaroos have ended their three-game losing run by keeping a flat New Zealand outfit scoreless in their 16-0 win at Hunter Stadium on last night.
First half tries to Darius Boyd and Greg Inglis proved enough to secure a Kangaroos win against an otherwise rudderless New Zealand outfit.
It was always going to be the case that a Kiwis win was going to come off the back of a brilliant Shaun Johnson performance.
The halfback's efforts however were thwarted without a recognised five-eighth by his side – Johnson's three errors a burden for the Kiwis come game's end.
Misguided plays and missed opportunities were the order of the day for New Zealand, though their defence – namely in the second half – was admirable as they constantly found themselves constantly peppered by an eager Kangaroos outfit in the final 40 minutes.
Blake Ferguson's four-pointer in the dying seconds was the only try-scoring instance in the second half.
At the opposite end of the game, Ferguson's wing partner Semi Radradra's first involvement as a Kangaroo ended in unfortunate circumstances when the winger was sin-binned in the seventh minute for denying Kiwis' Kevin Proctor the game's first try.
Proctor looked likely to pounce on a Johnson grubber in-goal until Radradra pushed the back-rower off his likely try-scoring path.
It would have no ill-effects on the Kangaroos who managed to post first points seven minutes later when Darius Boyd opted to go himself on a backline shift.
Australia extended their lead to six midway through the first half when Johnathan Thurston kicked a penalty goal from 10 metres out in front.
The 32nd minute won't be looked fondly upon by Tohu Harris anytime soon. A failed intercept by the Kiwis centre handed the Kangaroos another set 20 metres out from his team's try-line. Only a few tackles later, Australia centre Greg Inglis find himself enough space to palm off Harris again in defence and cross for his 28th try as a Kangaroo.
Inglis was denied his second of the match three minutes from half-time when a Dallin Watene-Zelezniak error in the lead-up was caused by a high shot from Thurston.
A late shot from Sam Moa on Thurston was the impetus behind the Kangaroos' next point-scoring play, a penalty goal from Cameron Smith in the 44th minute, which pushed the lead out to 12.
Ferguson's try then sealed proceedings for a Kangaroos victory.
While his four Broncos teammates will be happy for the Kangaroos win, New Zealand's Adam Blair being placed on a report for a chicken wing tackle midway through the second half could cause plenty of angst among the quartet.
Kangaroos 16 (Darius Boyd, Greg Inglis, Blake Ferguson tries; Johnathan Thurston, Cameron Smith goals) defeated Kiwis 0 at Hunter Stadium. Crowd: 27,724. Half-time: Kangaroos 10-0. On report: Adam Blair (Broncos) – chicken wing tackle.
Kiwi Ferns prove too strong for Jillaroos
Two brilliant try assists from eventual Woman of the Match Georgia Hale helped the Kiwi Ferns earn redemption over the Harvey Norman Jillaroos in their 26-16 win at Hunter Stadium.
Ferns five-eighth Hale's efforts comes just three months after she was named woman of the series at the Auckland Nines following the Ferns' 2-1 win over the Jillaroos.
The Ferns' victory was the icing on the cake after they were defeated by the Jillaroos in the corresponding game last season – try-scoring doubles from skipper Sarina Fiso and Atawhai Tupaea contributing massively to the end result.
The battle lines were drawn early when the Ferns' one-out barnstorming style of play showed its worth against the free-flowing Jillaroos – the latter dominating possession in the opening exchanges.
It came at the expense of centre Corban McGregor (collarbone) after she was involved in a tackle gone wrong in the fifth minute. Maddie Studdon's penalty goal two minutes later eased the pain slightly as the Jillaroos posted an early 2-0 lead.
The Ferns scored the game's first try in the 11th minute – in just their second set – when winger Tupaea scored in the corner thanks to handy lead-up work by Fiso.
Tupaea was handed her second try on a silver platter when a magical two-woman cut-out ball from Hale allowed her to cross again six minutes later.
Not to be outdone, Jillaroos' Studdon produced a two-woman cut-out ball of her own which found Samantha Bremner out the back for Australia's first try in the 24th minute. The fullback's four-pointer cutting the deficit back to two points.
The Ferns would finish the half up 12-6 however when centre Maitua Feterika powered her way over the try-line from dummy half to score in the 33rd minute.
An error from Emma Young handed the Ferns good field territory early in the second half, which they were able to quickly turn into points. It came off the back of Hale once again whose inside ball to Fiso opened up the Jillaroos defence for the skipper to score.
The Jillaroos wouldn't die wondering though, that including Karina Brown. The winger's kick ahead for herself in the 50th minute came up trumps when a Fiso error allowed the winger to pick up the loose ball and score.
The Ferns extended their lead to 10 in the 64th minute when Fiso crashed her way over for her second try of the match after slicing her way through Studdon and Jillaroos skipper Ruan Sims to score.
Krystal Rota's try four minutes later put the game out of reach for the Jillaroos when she reached over the try-line from dummy half to score.
Rota capitalised on Nora Maaka's run prior when Jillaroos Sims and Kezie Apps head-clashed in the tackle, leaving the former injured on the ground.
Brown's second try in the final three minutes helped the Jillaroos to a more respectable score though they would still go down by 10 points at game's end.
Kiwi Ferns 26 (Atawhai Tupaea 2, Sarina Fiso 2, Maitua Feterika, Krystal Rota tries; Nora Maaka goal) defeated Jillaroos 16 (Karina Brown 2, Sam Bremner tries; Maddie Studdon, Caitlyn Moran goals) at Hunter Stadium. Half-time: Ferns 12-6.