NZ Start Strongly in Open Divisions
Australia has started its first day of the Open’s Trans Tasman Series with one win and two losses.
The Mixed Open division saw New Zealand come from behind in the early stages to claim game one by two touchdowns, 10-8.
The Australian Women’s Open team impressed in game one, taking a 6-3 win over New Zealand.
The Men’s Open game was intense, with defence playing a massive part in the game early, with the teams going to the break at 2-all. Australia hit the lead for the first time in the game late in the second half, before the game was forced to a drop-off and New Zealand ran away with a 6-5 win.
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The Mixed match started at break-neck speed with both teams playing with energy and commitment. New Zealand was first to create an opportunity but Heneti Davis was shutdown out wide. Australia's Patricia Michaelopoulos had an easier path created for her on the opposing wing and crossed to put the visitors up 1-0.
The lead didn't last long, NZ's Tiakina Manga found space in the middle of the field and dived over to lock the scores up. Rohit Prasad was the main man for Australia and had his hand in numerous plays, including a fine touchdown centre field to give his team the lead.
While Prasad was leading from the front for Australia, Phoenix Hunapo was equally dangerous for New Zealand and always looked threatening close to the line with balls in hand.
Australia's Cameron Nicholls also crossed to create a buffer but they couldn't hold onto that advantage as Mark Hodgson found his way over in New Zealand's next set.
Prasad scored twice more in the half while New Zealand's Davis and Bruce Kake kept them in the hunt with touchdowns. With minutes to go Kristy Brennan scored for Australia to give them a 4-6 lead with only two minutes to go in the half.
New Zealand's captain Tabitha McKenzie then stepped up and had a hand in two massive plays for the home team. Her back-to-back Touchdowns tied the game at 6-6 as the half-time hooter blew.
Drafted into the team at the 11th hour, the spotlight then focused on Shaq Stone. In five minutes of dynamic creative play, he turned the game on its head; scoring three times, getting the crowd on its feet and giving New Zealand the momentum. After trailing for most of the match they didn't let the opportunity slip.
Australia kept on coming and the teams traded touchdowns but the Shaq attack was too much and New Zealand prevailed 10-8.
Australia was on the scoreboard early when Marikki Watego scored on the wing for Australia in the sixth minute to give her side a one touchdown advantage, 1-0.
It wasn’t until the 16th minute that the next touchdown was scored, when Australia’s Leah Percy set up Kirsty Quince to score in the 16th minute, giving Australia a two touchdown lead, 2-0.
New Zealand were determined to make the scoreboard by half-time and it was Niall Williams who did so, diving for the line and rolling over to bridge the gap to one touchdown, 2-1, which remained the score at the half-time break.
Australia didn’t waste any opportunities early in the second half, with Ash Quinlan scoring in the opening set of the half to take a 3-1 lead.
When Quince got her second touchdown of the match five minutes in the Aussies had a three touchdown lead and when Quinlan set up her captain Louise Winchester two minutes later the Australians had a handy 5-1 lead.
New Zealand’s Kristina Sue got her side back in the game six minutes later when she score a touchdown to bring the score to 5-2.
Australia weren’t finished yet, with Watego scoring her second touchdown of the game to extend her side’s lead to four with six minutes remaining.
New Zealand’s Coral Winiata scored with five minutes to go for New Zealand, with the game finishing with a three touchdown advantage to Australia, 6-3.