The Annual Country of Origin match between Team Australia and Team New Zealand proved to be a try fest with an entertaining exhibition of running rugby played at Land Rover Rugby Park on Saturday Night
Team Australia went back-to-back with a 37-29 victory over Team New Zealand and hold a 2-1 advantage since the reintroduction of the marquee event in 2015.
After a stirring haka delivered by the Men in Black, the match was played at pace from the outset and despite the Kiwis enjoying some line breaks the Aussies made the most of their first opportunity when quick hands along the backline enabled Bryce Condon to score after twelve minutes.
Ryan McMurray toed through a loose ball from a scrum and pounced on it in-goal for the Aussies second under the posts.
Zac Phillips slotted the conversion and the Men in Gold led 12-0.
The Kiwis found some momentum and with a string of penalties scored two tries in the space of four minutes to level the score.
Tani Fakaalofa crashed through the defence for the first while the fleet footed Abele Atunaisa stepped around several for his try.
Closing on half-time Bryce Condon slipped through a gap and well-structured support found Drew Tobin who then threw the final pass for Bryan Booth’s try.
Tobin had earlier thrown the final pass for Condon’s try.
Zac Phillips landed a Penalty Goal from halfway after the siren to give the Aussies a 22-12 lead at the break.
Trailing by ten it was important for Team New Zealand to score first in the second half and they did when some fancy footwork by Anthony Heal sent Captain Nick Barlow over for a try which Heal converted.
Phillips landed another penalty and the score was 25-19.
Team Australia’s game plan to play with width proved dividends a few minutes later when Jimi Fitzgerald scored wide out.
Tani Fakaalofa scored his second try after some individual brilliance by Abele Atunaisa and a few minutes later the Kiwis trailed by one when Dylan Lewers scored in the corner.
The Aussies got the margin back out to eight when Clancy Court scored and Phillips converted from the sideline.
Phillips had an outstanding game at fly-half and his combination with McMurray at the scrum base was instrumental in the victory.
Mosquitoes Head Coach Peter McGrath would be buoyed by the depth of selection possibilities ahead of their series against Townsville and Districts later in the year, with players from Alice Springs and Katherine earning consideration after the Mercure Country Cup played prior to the Origin match
Team Australia 37 R McMurray, B Condon, B Booth, C Court, J Fitzgerald Z Phillips 3 Con 2 Pen def Team New Zealand 29 T Fakaalofa 2, A Atunaisa, D Lewers, N Barlow Triies, K Hart, A Heal Conv
Photo: Leith Wood
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of NT Rugby.