Kiwi women score rare win over Aussies
3 May 2019 @ 23:00 UTC
New Zealand lead by superstar skipper Jean Waaka-Iraia beat defending champions Australia by 5-4 in a gold medal nail-biter.
The Kiwis seemed to have the game under control when they got out to a 3-1 lead three-quarters of the way through the first half after the threatening Buchannan bagged a double and Elesha Te Paa also grabbed a touchdown.
However, the Emus refused to lay down with Jenna Rowsell and Jessica Howe crossing the New Zealand line.
After the break, Waka, who will make her debut for the New Zealand Warriors in the NRL Touch Competition at Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland, continued to probe with Buchanan.
The Australians attack looked clunky early in the second stanza, yet the Emu's defence remained resolute. The World Champs then found a second gear with Kelly Kennedy piercing the New Zealand defence out of half on two occasions Finally, Sophie Broadbent, who also looked dangerous all game, got in behind the New Zealand defence that was called offside. The Aussie Number 1 then found Nikki Stanley who tied the game up.
Minutes later the Australians scored again after Leah Percy grabbed an inside pass to put the champs ahead 4-3.
With the Aussies snatching the lead for the first time, the Kiwis appeared to snap into a higher gear. The Kiwis drove hard back into Aussie territory with Waina Prime scorching over for a touchdown. The improved Kiwis showing coincided with Waka and Buchanan working the middle together.
Buchanan's vision soon saw Maria Asini free out wide and the games Most Valuable Player found the winger who put the Kiwis back in front. There were a few scares with the Australians delving into their bag of tricks, but the new world champions held on.
Skipper Waaka-Iraia said beating the Australians never comes easily. "We don't beat them often so we're going to 100% lap this up while we can."
The New Zealand captain singled out partner in crime Buchanan for her efforts in the match along with the elusive Te Paa and Tara Mohl, who were central to the team's defence."
Waaka-Iraia admitted that the team was worried as the Aussie took control early in the second half. "We lost our processes and needed a kick up the bottom. Once we got ticking away, we seemed to find our feet again.
The busy Kiwi has a big weekend with her debut for the Warriors following hot on the heels of a World Cup win. "I'll be in a plane in two hours and back in training with the Warriors tomorrow afternoon."
Article by Anthony O'Brien.
Photo credit Glen Eaton, Aisle 5 photography.