So another NRL rep round is over.
It started on Friday night with the Trans-Tasman Test in Canberra.
It was a great day for Australia, beating all three Kiwi teams; the Junior Kangaroos defeated the Junior Kiwis 46-22, the Jillaroos beat the Kiwi Ferns 16-4 and the Kangaroos beat the Kiwis 30-12.
The main game was one-sided; Australia led 24-0 at halftime and 30-0 early in the second half, with the Kiwis scoring a couple of consolation tries.
The biggest talking point was Australia’s first two try scorers, Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson. Dugan and Ferguson left Canberra acrimoniously in 2013, so the locals wouldn’t have know whether to cheer (because they were representing Australia) or boo (fans have long memories).
It was the last Trans-Tasman Test in May, with the game axed and the representative round (including the Pacific Tests) moved to the weekend before State of Origin game two from 2018.
It’s a fantastic move; the one-off Test has been far less important in a packed NRL season, while the City v Country Origin (which City won 20-10 in Mudgee) hasn’t been relevant for years.
The Pacific Test triple-header was a success. PNG beat Cook Islands 32-22, Tonga beat Fiji 26-24 and England beat Samoa 30-10. Locked 12-all at halftime, PNG scored three second half tries (two to Stargroth Amean, one to Nixon Putt) to stretch the lead to 30-16. The Tonga-Fiji game had about six lead changes before Leilani Latu scored for Tonga with two minutes left. The main game between England and Samoa wasn’t as close, but there was plenty of NRL talent for England with seven locally-based players – Sam and Thomas Burgess (Souths), Josh Hodgson and Elliot Whitehead (Canberra), James Graham (Canterbury), Chris Heighington (Cronulla), Chris McQueen (Gold Coast). England led 14-0 at halftime (Ryan Hall, Stefan Ratchford tries) and looked in control. Samoa got back within 10 with tries to Joseph Leilua and Anthony Milford before Graham and Jermaine McGillvary closed the game out for England.
Overall it showed why the Pacific Tests are an important part of the representative round; the fans at Campbelltown saw nearly 150 points scored in the three games, it gives Pacific teams decent exposure and allows the large Pacific NRL base the chance to play at international level.
TRANS-TASMAN TEST (Friday May 5th):
Junior Kangaroos 46 (Tyronne Roberts-Davis 2, Reece Robson 2, Sam Stone, Victor Radley, Jai Field, Jaydn Su’A, Corey Allan tries; Jai Field 5 goals) def. Junior Kiwis 22 (Steve Marsters, Dane Aukafolau, Jarome Luai, Briton Nikora tries; Patrick Herbert 3 goals) at GIO Stadium.
Australian Jillaroos 16 (Kelly, Temara, Kunst tries; Moran 2 goals) defeated Kiwi Ferns 4 (Tupaea try) at GIO Stadium.
Australia 30 (Josh Dugan, Blake Ferguson, Will Chambers, Tyson Frizell, Jake Trbojevic tries; Johnathan Thurston 5 goals) def New Zealand 12 (Simon Mannering, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck tries; Jordan Kahu 2 goals) at GIO Stadium.
PACIFIC TESTS (Saturday May 6th):
PNG 32 (Stargroth Amean 2, Adex Wera, Wartovo Puara Jnr, Nixon Put tries; Ase Boas 6 goals) def. Cook Islands 22 (Geoff Daniela 2, Uiti Baker, Esan Marsters tries; Isaac John 3 goals) at Campbelltown Stadium.
Tonga 26 (Leilani Latu 2, Manu Vatuvei, Daniel Tupou, Moses Suli tries; Ata Hinganao 2, Tuimoala Lolohea 1 goals) def. Fiji 24 (Viliame Kikau, James Storer, Ben Nakubuwai, Daniel Saifiti tries; Apisai Koroisau 4 goals) at Campbelltown Stadium.
England 30 (Ryan Hall, Stefan Ratchford, Josh Hodgson, James Graham, Jermaine McGillvary tries; Luke Gale 5 goals) def. Samoa 10 (Joey Leilua, Anthony Milford tries; Anthony Milford 1 goal) at Campbelltown Stadium.
NSW CITY V NSW COUNTRY (Sunday May 7th): City Origin 20 (Gower, Tamou, Cartwright tries; Gutherson 3, Gallen goals) defeated Country Origin 10 (Don, Elliott tries; Gordon goal) at Glen Willow Sports Complex, Mudgee.