Kiwi Legends far too overpowering
PROVING their minds were willing and their bodies still able, the Australian and New Zealand Legends turned on an entertaining rugby league encounter at Marley Brown Oval on Saturday night.
Three months after New Zealand claimed world champion status with a 24-0 victory over Australia in the Tri-Nations series final, the Kiwis were at it again on Saturday night, overpowering the Aussies 38-30 in front of 4500 fans.
New Zealand looked to have the edge in fitness over their opposition although it was not until the final quarter that they pulled away from the Australians.
For the victors, captain Gary Freeman's passing at halfback was a feature of the game, as was pace and evasion of fullback Richie Barnett and winger Jason Williams.
Lock forward Tony Tatupu proved more than a handful for the Australian defence while second-rower Kurt Sorensen, one of the oldest players on the field, played with the same pride of old.
For the Australians, prop Craig Greenhill surprised with his pace, Cliff Lyons and Ben Elias displayed silky skills and Martin Bella and Gary Larson played with the heart which typified their top grade and international careers.
Gladstone residents 'Bozo' Brown (Australia) and Greg Hill (New Zealand) were given the chance of a lifetime to rub shoulders with the Legends during stints on the field, Brown receiving the added thrill of being sent over by Dale Shearer to score after the final siren sounded.
Australian captain Ben Elias said the game was played at a high standard with players' talent shining through despite the fact some of them had retired more than 10 years ago. "It's like riding a bike,' he said.
'The more the game went on the more competitive it became.'
New Zealand 38 (Shane Horo, Tony Tatupu, Kurt Sorensen, Mark Horo, Gary Freeman, Richie Barnett, Jason Lowry, Gary Kemble, unknown tries; Barnett goal) d Australia 30 (Cliff Lyons, Willie Carne, Jason Hetherington, Craig Greenhill, Martin Bella, Bozo Brown tries; Hetherington, Lyons goals).