Sunday, May 14, 2017
Australia's Mixed Open side have made it three from three, securing an epic 11-10 come from behind victory to break the hearts of New Zealand.
The Aussies scored the last three touchdowns of the match to snatch victory after trailing for majority of the nerve-racking win.
Outstanding performances from Ifor Jones and hat-trick hero Mase Parsons was not enough for the Kiwis, with the class of Australian captain Michael Singh helping the Aussies get over the line by the smallest of margins.
New Zealand's effort and determination must be commended, sticking it to Australia from the first moments of the match.
It was clear New Zealand had come to play, scoring through Danyon Morgan-Puterangi after just 17 seconds of game time.
But Australia made it 1-1 in the 2nd minute, with Adam Pryde beating New Zealand's defence in the centre of the field.
The match was turning into a high-scoring affair when New Zealand hit back straight away, crossing in the 3rd minute through Jones to make it 2-1 very early in the contest.
The Aussies evened up the scoreline five minutes in when Tim Glazebrook took advantage of two offside Kiwi defenders to score in the middle of the park.
Jones set up New Zealand's next, with some fantastic interplay putting Bayley Waudby over for a touchdown in the 7th minute to make it 3-2 in their favour.
But Australia soon replied, with Glazebrook scoring his second in the 12th minute to level the scoreline at 3-3.
The match continued to to-and-fro as New Zealand hit the lead again through Puawai Gardiner with seven minutes to go in the first half, but Aussie captain Singh responded immediately to level it up at 4-4 in the 14th minute.
The last two minutes of the first half belonged to the Kiwis, scoring twice in that period to take a much-needed 6-4 lead into the half-time break.
Australia woke up after half-time, scoring two minutes after the break through Leah Percy to cut the margin to one touchdown.
Two minutes later it was 6-6, with Australia's Simon Lang crossing to give his side all the momentum in the 24th minute.
But New Zealand wrestled back some control of the match five minutes into the second half as Nathan Rollinson crossed for a touchdown to give the Kiwis a 7-6 lead.
Singh scored his second to draw Australia level in the 26th minute, but again New Zealand had an answer as they restored their one-touchdown lead through Parsons.
The Kiwis looked to be in control 10 minutes from full-time, hitting a 9-7 lead courtesy of an Autumn-Rain Stephens touchdown.
However, Australia were not done yet, scoring through Elin Mortimer in the 31st minute to have some hope of a comeback victory.
But when Parson's scored his third touchdown of the match for New Zealand it appeared it wasn't going to be Australia's day.
Trailing 10-8 to the Kiwis in the 33rd minute, Australia had to be the next team to score.
They did just that, crossing through Leah Opie-Lukins to keep the Aussies within reach of victory.
Australia scored again with five minutes to go and it was suddenly all locked up with a thrilling finish to come.
The Aussies' never say die attitude saw them hit the lead with two minutes to go, with Zara Nicholas crossing in the left corner.
Australia hung on to win 11-10, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.
It was a performance full of tenacity from the Aussies who would not let themselves be beaten.
Australia 11 (Glazebrook 2, Singh 2, Nicholas, Mortimer, Costello, Opie-Lukins, Pryde, Lang, Percy touchdowns) defeated New Zealand 10 (Parsons 3, Gardiner, Stephens, Rollinson, Waudby, Morgan-Puterangi, Jones, Takerei touchdowns)