Aussie men stun New Zealand in Cup quarter-final

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Aussie rookie Maurice Longbottom shrugged off a rolled ankle to help send Australia into the Sydney Cup semi-finals, with a 24-12 win over New Zealand.

Longbottom scored with his first touch, after coming on in the second half, showing off his trademark step to put Australia in the lead in the final minutes in his first home tournament.

the 22-year-old rolled his ankle while speaking to friends on day two, when a chair blew in his direction and he attempted to jump out of the way.

He showed no signs of that issue, though, when he blitzed the Kiwi defence to score in Sydney and after the match said the joint was 'perfect'.

Maurice Longbottom scored a spectacular try. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley"I was just seeing a couple of people I know in the crowd, I was just jogging back and just one ghost chair fell over in front of me and I just went to jump it and rolled my ankle a bit, but it’s fine now," he said.

Once he was on the field, Longbottom only had one thought in his head when he had a chance.

"I just wanted to run," he said.

"I was just so excited. I got the space, in the space, and just took off. It was good to get the first try."

 Australia's execution lacked early in the game, as New Zealand heaped the pressure on.

Vilimoni Koroi scored a controversial try to open the scoring, after what appeared to be a knock-on in the lead-up, putting the Aussies on the back foot.

Skipper Lewis Holland attempted to create a chance for Ben O'Donnell with a grubber, but the ball beat the youngster to the touch line. 

Their defence shone through again, though, when Australia forced a turnover deep in attack, opening up space for O'Donnell to run through and score an equaliser.

A clever offload from Lewis Holland put James Stannard in space and Charlie Taylor was able to finish off to put Australia in the lead at the break.

An infringement gave New Zealand a chance to attack just after half-time, and Koroi capitalised for his second of the game bringing scores level yet again.

Longbottom was injected into the game and the youngster scored almost immediately, lighting up the crowd, of whom quite a few were his friends or family...

Being able to ply his trade in front of his family was extra special for the La Perouse local, who said he had a big group of supporters at Allianz.

"Yeah everyone’s here today – they’re all in the crowd," he said.


"I’m surprised you can’t hear them in here.

"It’s definitely a lot better having your home crowd behind your back.

"You run out and you just hear the roar and it just lifts you that little bit extra that you need – it gets you over the line."

When Holland crashed over with a minute to go Australia held a 12-point lead and had one foot in the semi-finals, where they'll be pulling on every drop of energy the crowd can provide.

The result means Australia will be in the Sydney Cup semi-finals for the third year in a row, ffacing Argentina in their final four matchup at 5:58pm AEDT.

Keep up with all the action in our live blog.

RESULT

Australia 24

Tries: O'Donnell, Taylor, Longbottom

Cons: Stannard 2

New Zealand

Tries: Koroi 2

Cons: Knewstubb