Mon, Oct 23, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Kangaroos relieved, but not ecstatic

SOMEWHAT FORTUNATE The Kiwis were probably the better team on the night, but the scoreline favored the Australians and they'll take the win

AFP , MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

The Kangaroos were more relieved than jubilant yesterday after their narrow win over New Zealand to remain unbeaten in rugby league's Tri-Nations series.

Australia scored two converted tries in the last five minutes to steal a 20-15 win over defending champions New Zealand in Melbourne on Saturday.

The Kangaroos looked second-best and trailed the committed Kiwis 15-8 with five minutes left only to squeeze home in a frenetic finish.

Coach Ricky Stuart was dissatisfied with the performance with the late rush of points doing little to erase the team's deficiencies of the opening 75 minutes.

"We didn't lift our standard from what we set last week, that's the disappointing part of it," Stuart said yesterday.

It was a flattering victory after they had outplayed the Kiwis in the tournament opener 30-18 in Auckland the previous weekend.

"You're not satisfied unless you perform to the standard that you expect of yourself. We're setting the standard for ourselves, we're not trying to play to an expectation of other people," Stuart said.

"We've got an expectation of our own and the players are happy that they've won, I am too, I'm as happy as anyone that we've won because I much prefer to win an ugly game than lose an attractive one," he said.

Skipper Darren Lockyer, who was at the heart of Australia's two late tries, said the overwhelming feeling was one of relief but also the knowledge that there was still plenty of work to do ahead of their next match against Great Britain in Sydney on Nov. 4.

"I guess we now only have to probably win one of our last two games and we're in the final," Lockyer said yesterday. "Last night [Saturday] was a good victory but at the same time I think we probably took a backward step from the week before."

Kiwi coach Brian McClennan was upbeat despite the fact the Kiwis now may need to win both of their remaining matches against Great Britain to qualify for the Nov. 25 final.

"It's disappointing to lose, we're all shattered, but in the context of it all we can see we're getting better and that's important to us," McClennan said. "We're all pretty pleased that we improved from last week."

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