OK so Justin and Duncan are going to liveblog this game after the um, success (41 views counts, right?) of our liveblogging of Munster vs. The All Blacks. The pre-match coverage is going OK, there have been less awkward Mariah Carey covers than the opening ceremony (which, lest we forget, happened more than 24 hours after the tournament started). But they did just flash up about ten seconds of an old man lying on the ground next to the player’s tunnel, apparently dying. That was a bit of a downer. Here come the anthems…
OMFG who the hell is this creep doing our anthem? Are they messing with us?
Australia meeting the haka head on, this is really f***ing intense. Up there with the first England game.
3.30: A couple of sets in and the first penalty goes to NZ. I’m still processing dinner, but the nerves have settled.
4.00: SHIT! Marshall just blew a grounding. Pull him – he’s out of his depth.
5.55: They’re breaking tackles all over the park, we look a bit too keen right now. Vatuvei tried to king hit Slater, then Marshall failed to find touch from a penalty. Get your heads in the game New Zealand!
7.46: Australia tackled on the last without getting a kick away. Amateur stuff. Costo hasn’t really hit his straps yet, just a couple of lightweight cliches peppered into the commentary.
11.35: Slater carves through the defense and pops up a pass to Lockyer. TRY to Australia.
13.00: That was incredibly weak defense, and we’ve looked vulnerable there from the first. Marshall’s early miss was unforgivable, but it might be all immaterial if we keep defending this poorly.
14.00: Justin just said “it doesn’t feel like a final, eh”, and he’s right. There’s none of the desperation, or at least none from New Zealand.
15.00: As if to illustrate the point Williams darts past some weak outside defense, and scoots round for an easy try, untouched. This could be a grand final-level pounding unless something happens to the Kiwis mentality in the next few minutes. Kiwis kicked it into touch on the full from the kickoff. Pretty sure they’ve committed every mistake in the book already, and we’re not even a quarter of the way through.
18.00: Dear oh dear… Another Australian try. It’s Lockyer again dotting down after a – WAIT ON!! It would appear that Lockyer has lost the ball over the line! Video ref calls it – NO TRY!
NB: Alfie Langer is the Kangaroos’ waterboy. I’m not sure exactly what that means, but it feels wrong.
21.05: NZ gets back-to-back sets of 6 after a nice tactical kick. Rapira makes a run – at this point we really have to highlight his haircut. What the F*** is going on here:
22.00: Whoa. Costigan, perhaps the biggest moron of our time, trots out his “straight up main street” line, which really fails to do justice to just how devastating Jeremy Smith’s bullock over the line was. We needed that something chronic. 10-6.
25.00: Hohaia goes some way to undoing that good work by dropping the kickoff cold. I love the guy, but man we coulda done with a catch there. Just a catch, nothing fancy. The Australian’s come close with the next set, they look incredibly dangerous on attack.
27.00: Turning Point Moment: Benji appears to lose the ball forward, but the ref calls “play on”. Kiwis work it along the left and Ropati scores. Replays appear to show a Kangaroo hand was involved, and the video ref confirms – TRY! The conversion is successful, and somehow the Kiwis are in the lead. It’s 12-10!
28.35: Kiwi penalty from the kickoff, and we are on a roll… Classic frustration penalty conceded by Australia for a push at teh play of the ball, followed by another further down the pitch when Kite flattens Vatuvei the only way you can, with a clothesline. Marshall, having a Jekyll and Hyde game if ever there was one, spills it in a superb attacking position… aaaah.
32.00: Man we are living on the edge here. If we can somehow scrape this score into the half Kearney and Bennett will have to believe that a higher power is on our side. We have no right to be in this game, which, if, we’re honest, has all the gravity of a rabbits-‘dogs game from round 23. This is zero charisma league…
33.00: …Though I guess the Australian’s didn’t get the memo, they fling it through countless hands before Lockyer falls over the line for what should be his 3rd of the night. And that unlikely lead is gone. Justice, probably.
36.17: Dinner is still sitting pretty heavy in the gut. Need another beer.
36.47: Aussies like they’re starting to play with us. Keeping the ball alive and looking confident, but kick the ball out on the full on the last. Dickheads. I hate them.
37.50: Costo pulls out his first “sucking in the big ones” of the night, followed closely by “two minutes is a big time in a test match”. He’s started to heat up…
40.00: Half time. 16-12 to Australia, and the Kiwis probably pretty lucky to still be in it. Even allowing for Marshall’s screwing up the early try, which would have potentially given us the lead, you feel like this Australian side is just waiting to explode, almost too enthusiastic, too willing to push the pass. New Zealand are just kinda stodgy. But we’re only down by four, and stranger things (24-0) have certainly happened. Plus given that Wayne Bennett will be giving the halftime speech, we’ve got to have some degree of hope right?
Meanwhile: Halftime ads include the new Export Gold TVC, featuring Steriogram’s ‘Walkie Talkie Man’. Is this the worst NZ song of all time? Only time will tell. Maybe I’m biased though…
Meanwhile: If New Zealand do manage to win this match, it will most likely be because of this:
40:00: Costigan: “Yes, in the words of Tears For Fears, Everybody wants to rule the world” – That makes David Brent look kinda understated right? Maniac.
41.00: Vatuvei vs. Williams for the corner, replay suggests his knee hit millimetres before he grounded the ball, but that’s the game. Did as well as he could. – (Costo: “Are they checking for grasshoppers?” – FREAK).
43.21: Massive tackle on that Williams fella. He loses the pill and the Kiwis are on the attack again. This could be another Turning Point Moment…
45.10: It’s not.
46.00: Too many players have their socks pulled down. Must be time for some substitutions. Surely?
47.00: NZ milk a penalty, running into a retreating player who’s not the marker, Matai did it against England, it’s a neat trick. 6 to go down the other end of the field. Converting this kind of chance is crucial…
48.00: Penalty under the sticks, NZ take the tap (Costo pulls out his “blowing up deluxe” call again – wtf tdoes that even mean?) and HOLY S*** Hohaia sneaks through, we’ve reclaimed the lead, and done it with Isaac Luke’s insane haircut (defer to Costo again: “great haircut, great competitor”). But this is insanity. We’re winning after 50 minutes… We can’t dare to dream… Can we?
51.36: Costo: “The Wolfman… Someone needs to send him to the cave”… WTF?!? Williams has a shocker though, finding himself in touch deep inside Australian territory and presenting NZ with some quality field position…Rapira fires a ridiculous pass into the hands of the waiting Aussie defender. Nice one. Nice haircut.
54.35: Toopi is fired up. Thurston knocks on with the Kangaroos hot on attack. Fa’alogo with the punishing tackle, and Toopi clarly seen mouthing an animated “come on” to the troops. It looks like the Kiwis are starting to believe that they can win this thing.
57.00: Lockyer kicks through, Hohaia tries to get it back into the field of play, they’ve called himtackled in goal but man the ref was quick with the whistle there. Need to see some steel on D here, Australia always elusive… Shit, Folau crashes over the line, but I think *think* they’ve held him up. Please Jesus, let them have held him up.
58.00: The replay shows Hohaia wrapping his entire elf body around the ball as Folay crashed over, superb defence. Kiwis save the kick, then the Australians keep pushing after held called, penalty conceded, jail escaped, thank f***. This game is suddenly rising to the occasion.
60.00: Holy F***ing Hell!! Slater, Mr Cool, has one of the great shockers of modern sport. Trying to keep the ball in play, flicks the pill to nobody inside his own 20. Marshall pounces on the loose ball and scores in the corner! Benji is attempting to convert his own try… no good.
THE SCORE IS 22-16 TO NZ WITH LESS THAN 20 MINUTES TO PLAY.
Costo: “It’s as if a firecracker has gone off between his ears”.
63.23: As mental as it sounds, we need to start looking for a drop goal. Someone’s let Leuluai on to the field and he’s stripped it from Watmough. High foolishness, given the game situation. Apparently there’s punchup in back play, but Inglis has scored in the corner. Leuluai owns that try, complete idiocy, he should be dropped for all time for that.
64.00: Kick coming, we need this to miss – he’s moving the bundy hoarding from the side, surely that can’t help… He;s missed it! OMG OMG OMG. This last 15 will be incredible. I feel sick. Defend, and defend clean.
67.54: The score is 22-20 to New Zealand.
68.09: Penalty to NZ. A chance to kick for touch and gain some territory. We need it – not making a huge amount of yards. Are we fading?
69.30: Fein puts the grubber kick through and Hohaia is collared high, and without the ball! Commentators don’t think that it warrants a penalty try, but the ball was in the in-goal area… there must be a yellow card on the way. Suddenly the (Aussie) crowd are chanting “OFF, OFF, OFF”….
This changes EVERYTHING.
Costo: “He’s put the cat amongst the pidgeons. The biggest cat at that”. (thinks he’s fuckin’ Dr Seuss).
71.00: The score is 28-20 to NZ.
72.00: Fien puts up a bomb, Slater runs beautifully out. If anyone can swing this it’s him. This is crazy. Thurston breaks! Ankle tapped by Smith (a true NZ hero), and LOSES IT! In the words of Jerome Ropati, COME ON!
73.30: Ball stripped 5m from the line, poor officiating, Australia break down the other end but throw a dodgy pass in to who else but Smith! Baby, this is feling good…
76:00: After some of the scrappiest play you’ll see in modern league (a kick, a knock back, a knock on, another kick, a pickup) it appears that the Kiwis may be in again… surely not… but how? The video ref is taking an eternity with this one, and why not – this call will decide the 2008 Rugby League World Cup.
Verdict: TRY to the Kiwis!
77.0: Marshall hits the conversion, when they called the try Bennett erupted, I’ve never seen him like that. Huge. The game’s done, 14 points and even Australia can’t pull this back. This is probably the biggest upset in league history, no word of a lie. As far as I know Australia’s the only team to have ever won the world cup, in its history (one longer than Rugby’s equivalent). Bernard Fanning, this one’s for you.
79.00: Slater throws the ball into touch, and there is one minute to play. One minute until New Zealand are officially the World Champions of Rugby League. 4 more years.
80.00: New Zealand have won the Rugby League World Cup, 34-20.
This just happened:
Man I’m a good sports photographer. But seriously this is history, folks, I’ve forgiven Leuluai because A) he just dropped the f-bomb on camera and B) we won. These dudes really don’t want to be interviewed, they want to hug and get pissed. And who are we to stop them.
This is Duncan and Justin signing off, on repeat for the rest of the night:
UPDATE!!!! – They just gave Man Of The Match to Darren Lockyer, he sounds like he’s smoked about a carton of cigarettes, and…OH NO THEY DIDN’T, man of the series to Slater… How did this happen? The crowd are just standing around booing… A classic league shambles, but none of it can take a damn thing away from this moment:
Oh yeah. One more thing: