Saturday, 17 November, 2018

Kiwis out to restore New Zealand's faith

Shaun Johnson will be teaming up with Kodi Nikorima in the halves SPORT Shaun Johnson will be teaming up with Kodi Nikorima in the halves
Frederick Owens | 16 October, 2018, 15:40

JAKE Clifford has proven he's a star in the making by steering the Junior Kangaroos to a 40-24 win over a rocks-and-diamonds Junior Kiwis at Auckland's Mt Smart Stadium.

Kiwis celebrate a try.

The Kiwis on the other hand have been marred by a string of bad performances and questions are being posed about their culture after Jesse Bromwich and Kevin Proctor's illicit drugs scandal following last year's Anzac Test in Canberra. "That alone, I haven't had since I've been in this group", the 26-Test veteran said.

"We're building. Tonight's the foundation that we've built and we've just got to keep going and going". We are at a stage in our transition that we have a bit of work to do.

"I hate losing to be honest with you, I think we all do", Meninga said.

"The boys have spoken about what sort of team they want to be so the fans do come on the ride with us".

It may well be the dawn of a bright new era for New Zealand rugby league, but the message was clear coming out of the Kiwis camp on Saturday night - this is just the first step. "That's a really strong win from the boys for where we are in this position at the moment", Maguire said.

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The start was absolutely ideal for the Kangaroos, with the Kiwis tactic of up-and-in defence backfiring when they couldn't shut down the ball and a good combination of passing between Roosters trio Boyd Cordner, Luke Keary and James Tedesco gave fellow premiership Rooster, centre Latrell Mitchell space out on the left hand side before drawing in the fullback and passing out to Valentine Holmes who took the ball around towards the posts and scored the opener.

Maumalo made amends 10 minutes later when he crossed out wide after prop Martin Taupau delivered his second offload in as many minutes having come off the interchange bench and captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak passed the ball through his legs.

Valentine Holmes and Lattrell Mitchell were a unsafe attacking combination down the left-hand side and they created Australia's first try, to Holmes, after only two minutes.

Watene-Zelezniak appeared to have put his team ahead just before half-time when he pounced on a kick from Manu to score but review officials ruled that the Sydney Roosters centre had knocked on before he kicked.

While New Zealand dominated possession and territory in the first half, Australia began and ended the spell with tries which gave it a lead at halftime.

A week out from Australia's clash with Tonga, Mate Ma'a fever has swept through Auckland.

The world champions will now be desperate to turn it around against rising Tonga at Mt Smart on Saturday.

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