The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Australia rallies to beat plucky Kiwis 30-18 in one-off test

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SYDNEY - World champion Australia scored 18 unanswered points in the second half, rallying from 18-12 behind at halftime to beat a makeshift New Zealand team 30-18 in a one-off rugby league test at Sydney Football Stadium on Friday.

The young New Zealanders, lacking 14 frontline players, scored first and rocked the Australians with their enthusiasm, expressed in a physical but disciplined approach.

Jesse Bromwich scored the opening try in the ninth minute and after Australia seized a 12-6 lead with tries to Greg Bird and Brett Morris, the Kiwis showed heart to reclaim the lead with tries before halftime to Tohu Harris and Sam Moa.

Australia proved too strong in the second half as Morris completed a double, and Cooper Cronk and Greg Inglis added tries. Johnathan Thurston kicked five goals from five attempts.

Thurston, who picked up his fourth man of the match award in his last five tests, said the Australians refused to panic when they found themselves unexpectedly behind and under pressure.

"We knew that we'd got our fair share of possession and we gave them a couple of (soft tries) there with errors," he said. "When they got down our end they scored off all of those so there was no panic.

"We knew we had to come out in that second half and do a job and that's what we did."

The Kiwis were severely depleted by injuries and the absence of senior players who were out of form. They contained five players on debut and had an average age of 24 compared with Australia's of 28.

But they compensated for their lack of international experience with enthusiasm and ambition and unsettled Australia with their physical approach in the first half.

"We showed up with the right attitude to start with," Kiwis playmaker Shaun Johnson said. "We didn't listen too much to what was being said on the outside but we didn't win and that's quite disappointing.

"We didn't take on board too much of the talk of us being underdogs. We had a lot of belief in ourselves and we knew that each player that gets to represent the Kiwis is going to give it everything they've got. It was no different tonight; we just fell short."

___

Australia 30 (Brett Morris 2, Greg Bird, Cooper Cronk, Greg Inglis tries; Johnathan Thurston 5 goals), New Zealand 18 (Jesse Bromwich, Tohu Harris, Sam Moa tries; Shaun Johnson 3 goals). HT: 12-18.

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