It had a lot of hype surrounding it, particularly due to Australia being forced to deal with the post-Locky era, with a crowd of just over 35,000 at Eden Park, witnessing an Australian win over the New Zealanders, 20-12.Â
The game was close until the end, with a Cameron Smith try sealing the win for the Kangaroos, with the heartache continuing for the Kiwis – as they have failed to win a mid-season test since 1998.
The Australian side can take confidence in the fact that the spine of their players, will be around for a few more years yet, playing together in every test match.
“I was confident it would go well. Whether we won or lost, I was confident that the halves would play well together and that was the combination to go forward with the Australian side,” Australian coach Tim Sheens said.
“I said to Cooper he went a long way to filling those shoes tonight – that was a very good combination.
“I see the Queensland selectors smiling as we came off the field, just quietly. Both boys really worked well together.”
The Kiwis at times, shot themselves in the foot, with some silly errors – that included twice kicking the ball out on the fool, some dropped ball, and other silly mistakes.
“We were brave tonight, but probably not smart enough – key moments in the game, we probably didn’t take the right options,” Kearney said.
“From that point of view, it’s frustrating.
“I thought we had the momentum there (after Johnson’s try) … we let them off the hook too lightly.
“I guess that’s the lesson we’ve got to take out of that next time we come into camp.”
With the future of the mid-season ANZAC Test up in the air, due to the ARL’s belief that the workload players are required to undertake is too much, on top of what they already do in the season – it remains to be seen if the test is still around for next year.
“I’d like to see it stay. It’s a tough match, the first rep game of the season – it’s pretty intense,” Sheens said.
“With 35,000 here, that’s a great testament to what people think of rugby league down here and of their team.”
There were some rather controversial calls, and at times, wrong calls, by Richard Silverwood, a referee in the English Super League – prompting Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney to query as to why an Australia ref was not in charge of the game.
“I can’t see why we can’t have an NRL referee,” Kearney said.
“We play under those conditions – we’re used to the interpretations … why don’t we just fix it and get an NRL referee?”