Australia 16-14 New Zealand: Reigning champions edge thriller to reach Rugby League World Cup final

By Sports Desk November 11, 2022

Reigning champions Australia edged Trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand 16-14 in a thrilling contest at Elland Road on Friday to reach the Rugby League World Cup final.

Australia trailed 14-10 at the interval in Leeds, but Cameron Murray crossed over for the only try in the second half and the Kangaroos held on for a nervy victory.

New Zealand entered the tournament as top seeds and lived up to that billing when Jahrome Hughes crossed over in the 11th minute after being picked out by Joey Manu.

But Australia, who have not lost a World Cup match since 2008, responded five minutes later through Josh Addo-Carr's 12th try of the tournament.

Jordan Rapana's penalty had the Kiwis back in front, only for their opponents to again hit back thanks to Valentine Holmes, who dotted down in the corner.

Dylan Brown chased down Ronaldo Mulitalo's pass to give New Zealand the half-time lead, which they would have extended if not for Peta Hiku's try being ruled out. 

Australia used that scare to their advantage as Murray capitalised on some sloppy defending to power through in the 53rd minute, with Nathan Cleary adding the crucial extras.

No further points followed, with Hiku having a late try chalked off and Australia holding firm to reach yet another final, where either England or Samoa await on November 19.

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  • Former New Zealand prop Johnstone becomes first openly gay All Black Former New Zealand prop Johnstone becomes first openly gay All Black

    Campbell Johnstone hopes that coming out as gay will help others within New Zealand's sporting community.

    Johnstone, who played three times for the All Blacks, including in a Test series against the British and Irish Lions in 2005, confirmed he was gay on a current affairs television programme on Monday.

    He is the first openly gay player to have been involved within the All Blacks set-up. 

    "If I open up that door and magically make that closet disappear, then we're going to help a lot of people," said Johnstone.

    "I pushed that side of me down deeper and deeper. I went to some interesting places."

    In an interview credited to TVNZ, Johnstone expressed his hope that him becoming the first All Black to come out might help others feel more comfortable in their own skin.

    "If I can be the first All Black that comes out as gay and take away the pressure and the stigma that comes with that issue then it can actually help other people.

    "Yes, it is [a big thing], to be able to do that could possibly be one of the final pieces of the puzzle for New Zealand sports."

    The ex-Crusaders player also said he had been "living a lie".

    New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson, who played alongside Johnstone at Canterbury, commended his old team-mate's strength and courage.

    "On behalf of the New Zealand rugby community and as a former team-mate, I want to acknowledge and support Campbell for sharing his authentic story. Your strength and visibility will pave the way for the others in our game," said Robinson.

    "Rugby is a sport that is welcoming to everyone and a place where people should feel safe to be who they are.

    "We know that there are people who have not always been comfortable to be who they are in rugby. We want to be clear, no matter who you love, rugby has your back."

  • Pandya laments 'shocker' pitch after India sneak past New Zealand Pandya laments 'shocker' pitch after India sneak past New Zealand

    India's stand-in captain Hardik Pandya lamented a "shocker" of a pitch at Ekana Stadium and called for better surfaces after a slender T20I victory over New Zealand.

    The hosts edged past the Black Caps with one ball remaining in Lucknow, winning by six wickets in a low-scoring thriller to level the three-match T20I series.

    New Zealand only managed 99-8 from their 20-over allocation on a difficult wicket but made India wait until the final over for victory as Suryakumar Yadav saw his side over the line with a vital 26 not out.

    Pandya, captaining in the absence of white-ball veteran Rohit Sharma, was alongside Suryakumar at the end unbeaten on 15 but expressed his disappointment with the surface at home.

    "I always believed we will finish the game," Pandya said. "It went quite deep, but that is how it is. In these kinds of games, it is important to not panic.

    "Rather than taking risks, we rotated the strike. Having said that, this is a shocker of a pitch. We need to make sure we have better pitches. Even 120 would have been a winning total here.

    "We kept to our plans, we made sure they did not rotate the strike, and the wickets kept falling. Dew didn't play much of a role because if you see they were able to spin the ball more than us.

    "It was a shocker of a wicket. The ball was flying for even the fast bowlers."

    The in-form Suryakumar continues to rise his stock within white-ball cricket, though his 31-ball 26 was a far cry from his usual flamboyance and aggressive shot-making.

    Having blasted 112 and 51 in his two previous T20I appearances against Sri Lanka earlier in January, Suryakumar acknowledged an alternate approach was required on Sunday.

    "A different version of [Suryakumar] today," he said after receiving the Player of the Match award. "Adapting to the situation was very important. After losing [Washington Sundar], I had to make sure I batted until the end.

    "[Sundar's run out] was my mistake, I didn't see where the ball went. Of course, it was a challenging wicket, but you have to be able to adapt.

    "We just needed one hit in the end, and it was very important to calm ourselves down.

    "Before I got the winning runs, Hardik came up to me and told me you will hit the winning runs this ball. That gave me a lot of confidence."

    With an ODI series victory already secured, India will look for a white-ball double over New Zealand in Wednesday's T20I decider in Ahmedabad.

  • India edge low-scoring thriller to tie T20I series with New Zealand India edge low-scoring thriller to tie T20I series with New Zealand

    India thrillingly came out on top with one ball remaining to level their three-match T20I series with New Zealand after a remarkably tight second match on Sunday.

    The hosts won by six wickets at Ekana Stadium but only just managed to reach the low target set by New Zealand during what seemed a poor innings that saw them finish on 99-8.

    It was the first time the Black Caps had failed to reach 100 runs in a T20I against India, though it was not as bad as it first seemed on a difficult pitch.

    Finn Allen's (11) reverse sweep attempt from Yuzvendra Chahal's (1-4) delivery saw him knock the ball on to himself and then the stumps for India's breakthrough, and Devon Conway (11) soon followed when caught behind by Ishan Kishan off Washington Sundar (1-17).

    Glenn Phillips (5) was the third to fall victim to a botched reverse sweep, and Daryl Mitchell (8) also failed to reach double digits, with that pair removed either side of Mark Chapman (14) being run out.

    Michael Bracewell (14) and Mitchell Santner (19 not out) formed one of only two stands to yield 20 runs, before New Zealand's innings petered out with only five in the final over.

    India's response was not emphatic – they also failed to register a single six.

    Shubman Gill (11) gave Allen an easy catch with a top edge off Bracewell (1-13) for an early boost, before Kishan (19) was run out and Rahul Tripathi (13) was caught at deep midwicket.

    Suryakumar Yadav (26 not out) – aided ably by captain Hardik Pandya (15 not out) – ultimately dragged India over the line, getting just enough power on the penultimate ball to reach the boundary and take India to 101-4.

    Suryakumar decisive when it counts

    Having managed at least 47 runs in each of his previous three T20Is, Suryakumar is not used to struggling to amass significant totals.

    Much like everyone else on Sunday, he could not quite find momentum with his 26 coming off 31 balls, but the fact he had the nous to be the only batter to break the 20-runs barrier should not be overlooked.

    New Zealand bowlers give them a fighting chance

    The batsmen should not take too much blame – pretty much all of them from both sides struggled on a wicket that Hardik criticised afterwards – but the Black Caps bowlers had plenty of work to do here.

    The wickets did not tumble with quite the same regularity as when they were in bat, but with the ball they ensured the match remained tight – the fact they took it to the final over is commendable in itself.

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