Another sombre Anzac Test for New Zealand

TWO FOR BILLY: Australia's two-try man, fullback Billy Slater, runs full speed into Kiwis captain Benji Marshall during the Anzac Test, won by the Kangaroos 20-10.
TWO FOR BILLY: Australia's two-try man, fullback Billy Slater, runs full speed into Kiwis captain Benji Marshall during the Anzac Test, won by the Kangaroos 20-10.

The Anzac test was another sombre occasion for the Kiwis tonight as Darren Lockyer began his protracted retirement celebrations in style, leading the Kangaroos to a 20-10 victory at Skilled Park.

New Zealand might hold the World Cup and Four Nations silverware, but the Bill Kelly Memorial Trophy remains out of reach for another year as the Kangaroos extended their dominance of the mid-season Anzac international to 10 matches.

Although the error-prone Kiwis were unable to reaffirm their status as the code's No.1 team, it was still a memorable occasion for the 250 Cantabrians from earthquake-ravaged Christchurch flown over to attend the test.

The 90 emergency service workers among the contingent made an emotional lap of honour alongside Queensland counterparts who performed their own heroic deeds when deadly floods swept through the state in January.

Then the trans-Tasman rivals took centre stage, particularly Lockyer who equalled Ruben Wiki's world record of test caps with his 55th appearance - and last on Queensland soil.

Lockyer's combination with Jonathan Thurston, playing his first test since the 2009 Four Nations tournament, replicated the halves combination that has served the Maroons so well in State of Origin to help orchestrate the victory though it was Billy Slater's runaway try 12 minutes from time that proved decisive.

The Kiwis made a horror start when prop Sam Rapira broke his thumb while making the first hit-up of the game - an injury that rules him out of the New Zealand Warriors match against the Gold Coast Titans on Sunday.

Lockyer then twisted the knife with the Kangaroos first possession when Lance Hohaia failed to field his high kick and counterpart Billy Slater pounced on the loose ball to cross in the second minute.

The Kangaroos ability to capitalise on Kiwis errors continued when Shaun Kenny-Dowall turned over possession - the prelude to Jharal Yow Yeh marking his debut in style when he dived over in the corner.

Matt Duffie could not thwart Yow Yeh's clinical finish but atoned four minutes before halftime when fellow Kiwis debutant Lewis Brown's line break dragged the Kiwis back into the contest.

A late addition to the interchange bench for Greg Eastwood, Brown left three members of the famed Brisbane Broncos right edge - Lockyer, Justin Hodges and Sam Thaiday - in his wake before drawing Slater and setting Duffie free for a simple touch down.

Brown's first touch five minutes after he took the field capped Marshall's first telling contribution of the night - stealing possession from Thurston's grasp 30 metres from the Kangaroos line.

Marshall also added the angled conversion to narrow the margin to four but only a try-saving tackle by Simon Mannering after the hooter on Jamal Idris prevented the Kangaroos from restoring their buffer.

Lockyer intercepted a pass from Marshall to Hohaia before flinging a pass to Idris who looked certain to score until Mannering's inspirational hit.

Duffie's try and Mannering's defensive heroics combined to lift the Kiwis from their first half funk after they had threatened to play themselves out of the contest.

Mistakes from both sides turned the match into a cliff-hanger to rival the World Cup and Four Nations finals - Brown was held up over the line in the 58th minute after a Marshall nudge to the in-goal earned back-to-back sets although a Hohaia knock on undermined that attack.

Yow Yeh also went close to nailing a double but the ball beat him to the dead ball and Thaiday was also held up until another Kiwis handling error finally turned the match in the Kangaroos favour.

A Marshall pop pass was put down by Bronson Harrison, Ben Hannant scooped up the ball and fed Slater who out ran Issac Luke over a 70m foot race in the 68th minute.

Thurston added the extras and then Idris also became a try-scorer on debut when he carried three defenders over the line soon after Jason Nightingale had coughed up possession.

It was rough justice for Nightingale who was still suffering the after-effects of his heavy landing when Idris made contact with the wing as he leapt for a high ball.

English referee Richard Silverwood awarded a penalty though Idris may face further scrutiny by the match reviewer.

The Idris burst eight minutes from time blew out the margin though Hohaia, playing his last Anzac test before heading to St Helens and the English Super League at the end of this NRL season, added a consolation try after the hooter.