Draw with Kiwis another Kangaroo escape
Monday October 26, 2009
AS HE stood in the in-goal after Kiwi Frank Pritchard had scored with five minutes to play, Australian captain Darren Lockyer wasn't pondering another defeat to New Zealand in tournament rugby league. "I was thinking about the escapes we've had," Lockyer said.By full-time, after Melbourne Storm stars Greg Inglis and Cameron Smith had rescued Australia, he still was. "A great escape again," is how Lockyer described yesterday's draw in the Kangaroos' first Four Nations encounter in London.Lockyer likened the result to some of Australia's more miraculous escapes, such as in the 2003 series against Britain where the Kangaroos came from behind in each Test to win the series 3-0. There was a difference here; they didn't win. But it still felt like they got out of jail."In the end it was a valuable draw for us," Lockyer said.It was still a little difficult to tell what the dominant emotion was for the Australians. Was it disappointment that they had led 14-6 10 minutes after half-time, yet allowed the Kiwis to take the lead with five minutes remaining. Or was it relief that they emerged with one point after Pritchard had appeared to snatch both away from them? They were certainly patting each other's shoulders after the game as well as shrugging their own, a sure sign that relief and disappointment were equal partners."We're disappointed," prop Petero Civoniceva said. "We could have played a lot smarter."Coach Tim Sheens was taking a more glass half-full philosophy. "At one stage it was a point lost from our point of view, but at the end of it it's really a point gained," Sheens said. But there was a catch. "The one point keeps us in but it also makes next week's game [against England] very important to us. We need to come up with a win. We've got to come out and win that game."The Kiwis were equally confused. They had scored three tries in 20 minutes to take a six-point lead into the final moments, and had earlier shown wonderful resilience to repel Australian attacks for much of an absorbing first half, which saw a try to each side and one ding-dong brawl.But it was also notable for the Kiwis again forgetting about favouritism and sticking it to the Australians. They just lost concentration when it mattered most; immediately after they took that six-point lead into the final five minutes, they coughed up the ball from a short kick-off and allowed Inglis and Smith to weave their brand of Melbourne magic. Half-back Johnathan Thurston calmly potted a cool conversion and the Australians were breathing heavy sighs of relief to match the fatigue."I didn't really know how to feel," Kiwi captain Benji Marshall said.