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Monday, November 17, 2014
Nicky Armstrong, top, storms to
the top of the King Domain track
during the West Coast Alpine Club’s
inaugural Tuatara Trail Run on
Saturday. Armstrong was the first
woman home in a time of 56m 41s.
Paulette Birchfield, bottom, was
the second women home in a time
of 1h 1m and 15s. Her time was
particularly impressive as she had
competed in the Coast Road Cycle
Challenge that morning.
The run started at the Civic Centre,
up the King Domain track, along the
Peter Ridge track to the pole track at
the back of the power station hill and
back to the centre.
Sarwan Chand was first home of
the 36 participants with at time of
35m 5s with a six minute lead of
second placed Ben Aynsley.
Race director Tate Bradley said
it was fantastic to see so many
participants given the wet and muddy
The race was named after the
legend that the Grey River is
guarded by two duelling tuatara, on
opposite sides. The Tutara Trail Run
followed the spine of the tuatara on
In the past the West Coast Alpine
Club has run a “marathon” race over
the pole track to Kaiata. This was a
Results.— Men: Sarwan Chand 1,
Ben Aynsley 2, John Paul Lilburne 3;
35m 5s. Women: Nicky Armstrong 1,
Paulette Birchfield 2, Robin Long 3;
56m 41s. Family; Lillie Sadler, John
Arthur and Emma Arthur 1h 59m.
Under-16; Caden Manuel, 1h 40m.
A few minutes after midnight yesterday,
there was a unique gathering out on the
middle of Wellington Stadium.
As the cleaners went about their work, the
Kiwis players and staff formed a huddle near
the halfway line. They left the champagne,
beer, well-wishers and media in their dressing
room and headed out for a private gathering.
It said a lot about the closeness of this team,
but also signalled that this is just the start.
There have been false dawns before with the
Kiwis but this feels different.
“ We have set ourselves a bit of a standard
and they need to remind themselves that that
is the benchmark,” coach Stephen Kearney
said after the 22-18 win over Australia.
“That is what we have to live up to now and
that is what needs to be maintained.”
Thomas Leuluai, who was cruelly ruled
out of Saturday night ’s match but all smiles
after the victory, summed up the feeling
“ We can’t get too carried away and let ’s
see what happens in the future but this feels
like a special group,” L euluai, who made his
debut in 2003, said.
“Personally, I’ve never been in a Kiwis team
that has gone unbeaten like this.”
While the result was massive, the way
they played was just as significant. At times
it felt like a return to a New Zealand style
of league, like the penny has dropped that
there’s no point trying to beat the Kangaroos
at their own game.
“ We played our game tonight,” Dean
Whare said. “ We were still structured but
guys were trying things, there was plenty of
flair. It was Kiwis-style league, I guess.”
Just like the game in Brisbane to open the
tournament, the Kiwis tore the Kangaroos
apart in the second half. Only courageous
defence — and some poor New Zealand
options — kept Australia in the game but
the Kiwis determination to attack and not sit
on their lead was admirable.
“Even when we went a try ahead, we kept
playing football, we kept going at them,”
Kearney said. “If we had put the cue back in
the rack, they might have come back at us.”
They almost did, as the Australians
threatened to snatch victory in the last few
“They got us in (2010) and we almost
repaid them tonight,” Australian coach Tim
Sheens said, who would not be drawn on the
final call that ruled out a possible Kangaroos
try on the whistle.
of the New Zealand Herald
As they had done throughout the
tournament, the Kiwis for wards paved the way
for their side’s thrilling Four Nations final win
over the Kangaroos in Wellington on Saturday.
Their efforts were overshadowed by a
stunning individual performance from halfback
Shaun Johnson but the big men were just as
deser ving of praise and attention.
For the second time in four weeks they
dismantled the Kangaroos’ pack and exposed
their frailty up-front, backing up their
tournament opening win over Australia in
Brisbane with another fiercely dominant
display in the capital.
“ We knew we had to really step up in the
for wards, that ’s where the game was going
to be won and our edges finished it off,”
outstanding bench for ward Greg Eastwood
“ Big Manu (Vatuvei) got a double and
Shaun’s try, that was (off ) all the hard work
of the for wards but we’ ll let him take all the
Leading into Saturday night’s game, the
Kangaroos had made it clear they were seeking
redemption for that initial embarrassment, but
with just one specialist prop in the starting side
they were again found wanting.
Led by skipper Simon Mannering and prop
Jesse Bromwich, the Kiwis pack had to absorb
plenty of pressure as the visitors raced out of
the blocks to claim an early 6-0 lead.
They found support when Kiwis coach
Stephen Kearney threw his interchange
men into the action, with Eastwood, Martin
Taupau, Tohu Harris and Lewis Brown
helping to turn the tide the home side’s way
throughout a tense second quarter.
“ We spoke about that. There’s times there
when it gets tough for the boys and we’ve
really got to keep the energy going and I
thought Marty, Tohu and myself brought that
and it lifted the boys.
“ It ’s always good to have that energy coming
off the bench and that ’s what we had talked
Their relentless play was crucial in countering
the Kangaroos’ fast start and shortly after the
trio arrived on the park the Kiwis levelled
through Jason Nightingales four-pointer in the
On the back of that score the Kiwis enjoyed
five sets to Australia’s one, spending the bulk
of that time camped down in green and gold
The visitors had little response to the Kiwis’
dynamic running — bar the
fearless efforts of rookie David
Klemmer — as New Zealand’s
big men began to take charge
in the middle.
By half-time the metres
gained statistics told the story:
The Kiwis had five for wards
making well over 50m
(Eastwood 88m, Taupau 81m,
Bromwich 77m, Mannering
71m, and Harris 56m) while
the Kangaroos had just one
in back-rower Greg Bird with
Following the resumption,
the Kiwis were forced to repel
another Kangaroos onslaught
and despite the injury-
enforced departure of Taupau,
the for wards reclaimed the
The offloads kept coming to
allow halves Shaun Johnson
and Kieran Foran to operate
with time and space and
eventually the pressure told
when the gun No 7 split the
defence and stepped around
fullback Greg Inglis to score a
“As a half there’s no way I
could have jumped on the back
of it if they weren’t doing that,”
“They’ve been doing it for a few weeks now
and I’m just glad I got to execute on the back
of it. There were some really tough carries that
had to be made out there and they just kept
delivering so full credit to them. ”
Johnson extolled the virtues of Kearney’s
coaching style and the way in which he
encourages his players to back themselves
if they see a chance to promote the football
through the hands.
“Credit to Mooksy (Kearney), he’s done a
really good job of making the group really
comfortable to offload and to just play what we
feel and I think it is pretty obvious that we are
at our best when we are doing that.
“ We’ve got structure but if we see something
in our game, right from the start Mooks
encouraged everyone to take that opportunity.
“A lot of the tries we’ve scored right
throughout the tournament have probably
been exactly off that. They haven’t been full-on
structured set plays they ’ve just been that ad-
Eastwood rated the victory as being better
than both the Kiwis’ 2008 World Cup and
2010 Four Nations successes, explaining it
held special significance being able to achieve a
tournament win on home soil.
“ It ’s special. Especially a win back at home in
front of your people it makes it even that more
special,” he said.
“ I’ve enjoyed a World Cup win and a
Four Nations (win) before but to be here
in Wellington and to take it out means so
much more to the boys and especially to New
PICTURES: Nicholas McBride
Kiwis triumph a benchmark
PICTURE: Getty Images
The Kiwis celebrate after winning the Four Nations Final against Australia at Westpac Stadium in
Wellington on Saturday night.
FOUR NATIONS LEAGUE
Pack paves the way Tuatara Trail blazers
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