30 Apr 2016 @ 11:03 UTC
The Australian Men’s Open side don’t skip a beat from their 2015 World Cup heroics, re-writing their own piece of history.
At the spiritual home of the great New Zealand band, Split Enz, it is fitting here in the Auckland region to recall one of their great tunes and conjure images and lines of this great Kiwi classic. While the track will go down, ahem, in history as one of the greats, the title and lyrics might well at this point be in question by none other than that other lyrical genius and part-time Australian Men’s Touch coach and pub band/cabaret virtuoso, Tony Trad.
Following last year’s demolition at the hands of the Australians at the Touch World Cup, it would be fair to assume the Kiwi men’s team might well have been hoping or praying that, as the Finn brothers so poignantly said, that ‘history never repeats’.
Alas, as the Australians channelled back to this last time last year at Coffs Harbour, the Split Enz track message, like any doubts about the Aussies’ ability to lift again from last year’s heroics, were quickly and decisively laid to rest.
In a repeat of their previous evenings’ heroics the Australian men muscled-up and powered their way to another dominant performance over their Kiwi cousins and foes: winning the match 10-6 and nailing the series. The win marked the sixth successive win by the Australian contingent on tour.
This 2016 version of the Men’s Open team looks lean, mean and hungry for success and didn’t miss a beat from their incredible performance over New Zealand in the 2015 Touch World Cup final; bang-on 12 months ago to the day and very much on-song as a group.
It has been difficult to nominate standouts as all players have been so strong and performing their roles, and as team, with aplomb.
In Game Two of this series, the Aussies had all the running and scoring opportunities in the first half crossing for six in the space of 15 minutes with the Kiwis managing only two, but pretty well constructed tries. This was the tale of the tape though as the Aussies eventually ran out winners
10-6; with their tails up and a strong desire to win the three games on offer this series and serve notice at this event and to the rest of the world.
While some excellent defence closed out many a Kiwi raid and with the pride in their line restored to an extent, a triumphant and happy coach, Tony Trad, along with assistant coaches, Sfeir and Gyemore, are still asking for more from their charges.
“We’re absolutely happy with the pride and the performance of the guys and very pleased to secure the win. But, while we give full credit to the Kiwis, we want to be better with our defence and be stronger when the going is tough,” he said post-match with his trusty side-kick, Sfeir by his side.
“We were pretty dominant and picked up from where we left off at the World Cup last year so I couldn’t be more pleased for the boys and particularly the younger blokes coming through,” Trad added.
For assistant coach, Sfeir, the goals and processes are on track but still require some fine-tuning such is their relentless quest for excellence.
“We obviously know the Kiwis are good and they showed that today but we do want to limit the prospect of tries from, say, long balls to a minimum; so that’s an area we would like to address,” he said.
“That said, they were pretty awesome, eh?” Sfeir added with his customary smirk and arms in the folded position.
While Shaun Francis troubled the scorer only once more to close out the first-half 7-2, you could all but say the series had been effectively decided at that point.
Two minutes back from the break though it was the New Zealand number 3 who had other ideas, going in for their try number three; Matt Sinclair crossing out wide and perhaps the Enz’s classic hit looming large in his mind.
Two great saves out wide denied the Kiwis including one sliding effort from Hennessey but Cavanagh then shot through at close range; a recipient of a great long ball from inside, with twelve to go and the scoreline, 7-4 and the Kiwis drawing on their diminishing reserves.
Perhaps the Aussies took the foot off the pedal. Either way the Kiwis were coming back hard. But when Jordan Marshall, with brother Benji looking on in the crowd, hit Deegan with a great cross-ball to move the Aussies out to 8-4 with 10 on the clock to go, it seemed time was fast running out for the gallant Kiwi men.
It was then the sole Alliance and WA player in the team, Stu Brierty, who featured next with seven minutes remaining, before Erueti then snuck in out wide taking a difficult wide ball with Matt Prowse in hot pursuit out wide lunging to no avail.
This brought New Zealand to within three for the first time in the match but again, fittingly, arguably best player on the planet, Dylan Hennessey had the last say, finishing off a nice inside movement to close out the match 10-6 and the series decided there and at that point.
This win and the last had all the trademarks of a classic; the Aussies now put their guitars on the cue tonight in readiness for another standout performance in the morning.
While the Australian coaches and at their vintage might know the great Split Enz band and all their hits, perhaps it is best that in celebration following this year’s event, the Men’s Open boys might request Coach Trad to perform something more of their time and generation and more appropriate. Something like the Propellerheads’ ‘History Repeating’ perhaps. Or something entirely random.
Hit it, Coach Traddy…
FINAL SCORES: Australia 7 New Zealand 6
Scorers: Australia – Marshall 2, Hennessey 2, Barton, Prowse, Brierty, Buckley, Deegan, Francis.
New Zealand – Pamatatau 2, Leota, Erueti, Sinclair, Cavanagh.
Referees David Baggio, Matt Lavery, Miah Williams, NZ.